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Fisheries: EU and Norway to stop discarding in the Skagerrak

Press release - 29/8/2012

According to a new proposal by the European Commission, the EU and Norway are to harmonize technical and control measures for fisheries in the Skagerrak to ensure long-term sustainability of fish stocks.

Significantly, the proposal features an obligation to land all catches of certain fish species – to stop the practice of discarding. The new rules spell out how the ban will work in practice, specifying for instance that undersized fish may not be used for human consumption, except for charitable purposes. The obligation to land all catches will enter into force in two stages: some species (cod, haddock, pelagic species like herring and mackerel) will be covered from 1 January 2013, the rest (mainly flat fish and species like sandeel or Norway pout) as from 1 January 2015. New technical measures agreed with Norway are also being introduced.

Today's initiative was prompted by the revocation of an agreement dating back to 1966, which allowed Swedish, Danish and Norwegian vessels to fish up to 4 nautical miles from each other's coasts whilst remaining under flag-state jurisdiction. With the 1966 agreement revoked, the vessels will have to comply with coastal-state jurisdiction, which is why EU and Norwegian rules must be harmonised. Though the only EU countries that can fish within 4 miles of the Norwegian coast are Denmark and Sweden, the new measures will apply to all EU Member States having fishing rights in the Skagerrak, i.e. also vessels from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.