Special relationship with Norway
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead is in Bergen this week as he seeks to strengthen Scotland’s “special relationship” with Norway over shared fisheries.
While in Bergen Mr Lochhead will meet with Norwegian Fisheries Minister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, with discussions to include joint working to tackle fish discards and the need to secure international agreement to safeguard the mackerel fishery.
Fish landings worth around £245 million in 2011 – nearly half the Scottish fleet’s income – resulted directly from fisheries agreements between the EU and Norway. Stocks involved include mackerel, cod, saithe, whiting and herring. Meanwhile £20 million of fish is caught by Scottish vessels with access to fish to Norwegian waters.
Mr Lochhead said:
“With our fish stocks and fishing industries inter-connected, it’s clear why we need to work closely with our neighbours in Norway. Scotland and Norway has a long and fruitful history as partner countries – and on fisheries, that special relationship is very important.
“While reforms to the EU’s much-maligned Common Fisheries Policy will shape the future of the Scottish industry, cooperation and shared learning with Norway is also critical. The issue of fish discards is one such area – when fish are dumped dead overboard due to ill-fitting and inflexible rules.
“At the recent EU Fisheries Council we reached agreement on a timetable towards the elimination of discards. Therefore I will be keen to discuss how Norway operate their discard ban, while also sharing Scottish innovations – such as use of highly selective fishing gear – to dramatically cut the level discarding.
“Securing international agreement for the mackerel fishery – Scotland’s highest value stock and Norway’s second after cod – is something both countries are working hard to achieve. We will discuss what more can be done to pressurise the Faroes and Iceland to come to a deal, because we must avoid a fifth straight year on unsustainable mackerel fishing, that puts this valuable shared stock at risk.”
Mr Lochhead is in Bergen on June 25 and June 26. In addition to meeting with Ms Berg-Hansen, his time in Norway will include engagements at the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, Norwegian Institute of Marine Management, the National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research, the Norwegian Pelagic Sales Organisation and the Norwegian Coastguard.