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Coastal States' talks fail to reach a mackerel quota agreement

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Monday, October 29, 2012, 03:40 (GMT + 9)

A meeting between Iceland, Norway, the Faroe Islands and the European Union (EU) on the management of mackerel fisheries held in London last week failed to produce a new international agreement.

"We need an international deal that will see the mackerel stock sustainably fished – something that has regrettably not been the case over the past four years, with the Faroes and Iceland pursuing their own irresponsible quotas. It’s disappointing that these talks have failed to achieve a deal, which is clearly in the interests of all parties who share the fishery,” Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead stated.

He slammed the Faroes in particular, whose position he called “stubborn and unrealistic.” The Faroese self-declared mackerel catch for 2012 was five times their internationally agreed quota in 2009; it was so large that their fleet could not harvest it all and the country invited in huge Russian vessels to fish mackerel in their territory.

When no consensus could be reached, Iceland advised, as an interim measure, that the total catch taken by the Coastal States and the Russian Federation for 2013 be lowered in line with a scientific assessment from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). A 15 per cent reduction on 2012 levels to an overall catch of 542,000 tonnes was proposed, but no agreement was reached.

“I am disappointed that no agreement has been reached despite proposals from Iceland on a considerable reduction of the catch. We remain willing to negotiate a solution that reduces the mackerel catch for all Coastal States, based on scientific evidence, and ensures a fair share for all while protecting the stock for future generations,” Icelandic Minister of Industries and Innovation Steingrímur J Sigfússon said.

Scottish Member of the European Parliament Struan Stevenson warned that Iceland and the Faroe Islands are posing a serious threat to the survival of the mackerel stock.

“Time for tough sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes in mackerel war after talks in London broke up again yesterday [24 October] with no result. These two bandit nations will wipe out the shared mackerel stock due to their greed,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

In September, a vote in the European Parliament advanced plans to make sanction measures available to the EU for use against states that pursue unsustainable fishing practices outside international agreements, such as Iceland and the Faroes.

Last month, ICES recommended that the mackerel quota in 2013 should fall, precisely because of the “excessive fishing” by Iceland and the Faroes that has pushed catches well above the recommended limits, the Scottish Government said.

Related article:

Scotland voices increasing frustration over mackerel dispute
Brussels agrees to sanction Iceland, Faroes
-Council adopts measures against unsustainable fishing

By Natalia Real



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