This was a different kind of December Council in a number of important ways. Many delegations…
The annual EU Norway talks are a complex set of negotiations over two rounds that, amongst other tasks, set the TACs for shared stocks like North Sea cod, haddock, saithe, plaice and whiting.
The 1st round this year took place recently in Bergen and were dominated by Norway’s insistence that progress must be made on the issue of discards. Norway has indicated that it could be much more flexible when it comes to setting TACs if the EU would commit to measures to reduce discards. There is a real possibility this year to move away from the low TAC/high discards impasse, to a much higher TAC accompanied by well designed cod avoidance measures. The second and probably final round in the negotiations will take place in Brussels in the week commencing 24th November.
The TAC for North Sea whiting presents a difficult set of circumstances this year. The TAC is set for the whole of the North Sea but whilst vessels on the North East coast have been forced to discard large quantities of whiting because of lack of quota, the southern and eastern zones are seeing the effects of low recruitment and a run of poor year classes. One of the Federation’s priorities this year is to resist TAC reductions that can only mean more discards on the NE coast. The task is a difficult one, with the scientific advice backed by Norway, calling for a 62% reduction and the Commission’s position being a 25% cut. Part of the solution lies with more selective gear and trials aboard commercial vessels have been undertaken in England, Scotland, France and Denmark.