(REUTER) Brussels, Feb 28 - The European Union and Norway have agreed on the management of 1.5 million tonnes of joint fish stocks by about 2,000 vessels in the North Sea in 1995, the European Commission said on Tuesday. Agreement, which is normally reached in December, was delayed following Norway's decision in a referendum on November 28 to stay out of the EU.
"I hope that it will help us to build a lasting and cooperative relationship with Norway, in fisheries...," Eu Fisheries Commissioner Emma Bonino said in a statement.
The main problem was over mackerel stocks, which were cut by 20 percent to 630,000 tonnes on scientific advice, EU officials said. Norway, which claimed a larger share of the catch because migratory mackerel stayed longer in its waters, eventually obtained a marginally higher 30,3 percent despite Irish objections. But the EU was allowed to switch some of its western waters mackerel quota to the North Sea. The North Sea cod catch was fixed at 120,000 tonnes, lower than proposed by scientists, in order to rebuild stocks more quickly. Most other catches will be little changed from last year and will be shared between EU member states according to a pre-set formula.
"No major problem is foreseen, member states will get the same share as last year," a Commission spokesman said.
The agreement, struck on Saturday, is expected to be endorsed by EU ministers shortly. It also includes the exchange of stocks with Norway granting fishing rights to EU vessels in the Barentz sea and the EU giving quotas to Norwegian vessels in Union waters and off Greeland.