Talks between the EU and Norway to finalise catching opportunities for shared fish stocks for 2016 concluded in Bergen, Norway, last night (4 December).

These talks had special significance for the Scottish fishing industry because the phased introduction of the Landing Obligation (discard ban) for demersal fishers commences on 1 January 2016, which will deliver a major sea-change in the way our fisheries are managed.

Under the new EU-Norway agreement, the haddock quota will increase by 30% in accordance with the scientific advice and North Sea cod will rise by 15%. Haddock will also receive an additional uplift of 17.3% to enable the fleet to cope with the management of the discard ban.

Despite facing the prospect of a cut, the North Sea whiting quota remains unchanged while saithe drops slightly. For the pelagic sector, North Sea herring catches will increase by 16%.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “This agreement reflects the healthy nature of our stocks and will bring some welcome relief to our hardworking fishermen who are committed to a sustainable future.

“Challenges remain, and while the quota uplift for haddock and other stocks to cope with the discard ban will be welcomed, only time and a great deal of effort from fisheries managers, the Scottish fleet and the supply chain as whole will help ensure the discard ban scheme works when it is phased in from 1 January 2016.”

The conclusion of EU-Norway negotiations sets the scene for the completion of the final decision-making on all fish quotas for 2016, which will take place at the European Fish Council meeting in Brussels commencing on 14 December.