Danes, British agree on Scottish fishing, but Copenhagen not pleased with limits
The dust is beginning to settle after the apparent ending of the six-year-old Common Market fisheries dispute, which was mainly a dispute between Denmark and Britain. Now, the Danes and British fishermen are taking stock of the North Sea fishing pact hammered out in Brussels.
The Danes are not pleased about the final pressures put on them by their European partners to reach a deal on trawling quota catches in Scotland's rich fishing waters. Denmark, without much heavy industry and lacking in mineral wealth to sustain 5 million people, regards widespread fishing in the North Sea as essential to its economy.
The deal, which is not yet final, is a compromise between the Danish government and the United Kingdom. It adds more than 17,000 tons of haddock, cod , and herring to Denmark's North Sea allowance and permits the Danes to continue with up to 90 percent trawling around the of Orkneys and Shetlands, those northern Scottish islands.
But Denmark claims that another 200,000 tons of fish has become available with the natural increase in North Sea stocks. Copenhagen bristles at what it perceives as the ultimatum its Common Market partners have presented, and considers the basic additional 17,000-ton quota too low.
Denmark claims its fishing activity has dropped from 375,000 tons in 1976 to 218,000 tons this year.
But figures given out by Denmark and the U.K. are often open to interpretation and appear to be part of a propaganda war for support within the Common Market. Scottish fishermen have been complaining bitterly about Danish inshore fishing off west Scotland. But Scottish catches appear to have risen from $:55 million ($88 million) in the first half of 1981 to $:65 million in the six months up last June.
With a fleet of 1,200 fishing boats, 5,000 fishermen, and 60,000 jobs in Denmark dependent on fishing, the coalition government of right-wing parties here is struggling to please voters and fishermen and to cooperate with the European Community at the same time.
That Denmark's ailing economy is bolstered by its lucrative fishing industry is beyond dispute. Over 1.3 million tons of fish is used for industrial fish processing in Denmark each year, and an additinal 450,000 tons is earmarked for fish markets.
Fishing represents 5 percent of all Denmark's exports. With an annual fishing income of around $:430 million, this country is the world's No. 3 fishing nation.