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Fewer fish, hard times and Norway factor affect quota talks

brussels bureau

Fewer fish, hard times and Norway factor affect quota talks


European Union fishing quota decisions for 2010 this week are expected to be even more complicated than usual because the EU has failed to secure an agreement with non-EU Norway.

With EU officials estimating that more than 80 per cent of stocks in European waters are overfished, debates on quotas both within the EU and with foreign partners have got tougher and tougher.

The European Commission would like to see deep cuts of at least 25 per cent in allowable catches for species that face depleted stocks, as nations fight for their share of an ever-dwindling supply.

Unless there is an EU-Norway deal, each side’s waters will be out of bounds to the other’s fishermen. EU Council presiding nation Sweden is chairing the two-day talks. Swedish Minister for Fisheries Eskil Erlandsson said: “We will try to make an agreement because otherwise the fishery effort will stop at New Year’s. So, we have to come up with something.”

The negotiations cover some 80 species, mostly in the Atlantic and North Sea. The Commission said several stocks are still exploited beyond sustainability; allowances have been set too high.

The EU said to stay marginally profitable its fishing fleets are increasingly relying on support funds. One official underlined that jobs in many coastal cities depend entirely on fishing, keeping heavy pressure on the quota talks.

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