Bitter battle over mackerel quotas hots up


In a joint statement issued this afternoon, both pelagic sectors said the EU and Norwegian pelagic fleet owners had an urgent meeting yesterday in London to discuss the “very worrying” situation in the mackerel fisheries, caused by the “irresponsible behaviour” of Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

After setting 130,000 tonnes of autonomous mackerel quota by Iceland earlier this year the Faroese government decided last week to set an autonomous mackerel quota of 85,000 tonnes.

But both decisions went directly against the scientific advice for this “most important” pelagic stock in the North East Atlantic.

The EU and Norway meanwhile, stuck to the agreed management plan for mackerel and have set their quota fully in accordance with the scientific advice.

The statement went on that EU and Norwegian vessel owners welcomed the decision of the Norwegian government to prohibit landings of mackerel by Faroese or Icelandic vessels in Norway and they called upon the European Commission and member states to do the same.

“Moreover they discussed ways to organise an industry-based blockage of mackerel landings in the EU by vessels from the Faroe Islands or Iceland. “

They also called upon their authorities to decide an immediate import ban for all fresh and frozen seafood products into the EU and Norway from Iceland and Faroe Islands, including fish oil and fish meal and to close their ports and their 200 miles zones for any Faroese or Icelandic fishing vessel.

The EU and Norwegian industry representatives underlined that they feel very strongly that their politicians and governments should protect the mackerel stock and the interests of their fishing fleet against the behaviour of Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

Gerard van Balsfoort (EU industry), Audun Marak and Sigurd Teige (Norwegian industry) said : “This is the moment that we expect from our political leaders and administrations to work closely together in designing and deciding immediate and effective measures against Iceland and the Faroe Islands in order to defend the mackerel stock and the EU and Norwegian mackerel industry. This is a test case. If EU and Norway are not able to stop the outrageous behaviour by Iceland and the Faroe Islands the credibility of fisheries management at large is at stake.”