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Future fisheries cooperation

15 May 2013

The Demersal Working Group of the North Sea Regional Advisory Council (NSRAC) has travelled to Norway to meet with a delegation from the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association (Norges Fiskarlag).

The aim was to lay foundations for future cooperation on the development of long term management plans for fisheries jointly managed by the EU and Norway.

It’s hoped that these plans will go beyond a simple set of harvest control rules and quota setting protocols and include both economic and environmental consideration.

At the meeting, how to manage mixed fisheries at or above sustainable yield levels was top of the agenda for both parties.

Both the NSRAC and the Norwegian fishers shared parallel experiences of a radical shift in the industry’s relations with fisheries science and fisheries scientists over the past 10 to 15 years. The NSRAC was particularly interested in the Norwegian reference fleet which uses onboard commercial vessels to complement and strengthen the more conventional ICES stock assessments.

Both parties agreed it made no sense to work on long term management plans separately only to present the finished article for endorsement - which could be a recipe for misunderstandings, conflict and confusion.

Barrie Deas, chief executive, National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), said to World Fishing & Aquaculture: "EU fisheries stakeholders need to find a way to engage with Norwegian fishermen in the development of fishing plans because we fish together on shared stocks but Norway is not in the EU and not therefore included in the regional advisory councils. Time will tell but this may turn out to be an historic meeting in which the foundations for future collaboration was laid."

The RAC and Norwegian Fishermen’s Association will now consider the form through which cooperation will take place in the future.