Marine / Too early to celebrate ‘successful outcome’ of fish negotiations

Local whitefish boat Avrella passing by Whalsay earlier this month. Photo: Ivan Reid

IT’S TOO early to say whether quota swaps with Norway will have a positive impact on the local whitefish fleet, according to Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) executive officer Simon Collins.

He said the conclusion of the Norway-EU negotiations this week were just the first piece in a jigsaw that will be put together in the coming weeks.

The Scottish Government said on Friday that an agreement on access and quota exchange with Norway was a “good outcome” for Scotland’s fishers.

But ongoing trilateral talks between the EU, the UK and Norway and bilateral talks between the EU and the UK could change all that.

In addition, the UK will also have bilateral talks with Faroe which are due to start soon, plus ongoing long-term talks on pelagic fisheries involving all coastal states.

Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins. Photo: Shetland News

Collins, who was at the last round of the talks held in Brussels, said the details of what the whitefish fleet will be able to catch and land in 2023 will only become clearer by the middle of next month.

“The aspiration of all the parties, including Norway, is to get things done by the middle of December,” Collins said. “It’s not a hard date but it is certainly the aspiration.”

He added that the Scottish and UK negotiating teams were working hard to get the best deal but said it would be “unwise” to comment further until a fuller picture emerges.

The Scottish Government said on Friday that Scotland’s fishers would benefit from increased opportunities to access monkfish and other key demersal stocks, following the conclusion of UK-Norway talks.

Rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “This is a good outcome for Scotland’s fishers, which builds on the successful arrangements for 2022.

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“Norway is one of our closest coastal partners and we share a number of fish stocks in the North Sea. I am pleased that a deal has been reached that will deliver benefits for both nations.

“In particular, we have secured an increased inward transfer of monkfish. With the scientific advice for 2023 requiring a cut in overall monkfish quotas, this will play an important role in ensuring Scottish fishers can maintain access to this key stock.”

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