EU pursuing 'Mackerel Wars' sanctions


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
May 13, 2013

The European Union has outlined sanctions against the Faroe Islands regarding herring, and is pursuing similar measures regarding mackerel for both Iceland and the Faroes.

According to a statement from the Scottish fishing ministry, the EU Fishing Council, meeting this week in Brussels, has outlined a plan to prevent Faroese herring exports from coming to the EU. The sanctions will also prevent Faroese vessels that fish for herring from landing in the EU, and EU vessels will not be permitted to fish for herring in Faroese waters.

The Faroes and Iceland have both come under fire in recent years by the EU and Norway, which have accused both countries of fishing beyond quotas for mackerel set by an agreement between all four parties.

While the current batch of sanctions only addresses mackerel, the ministry said the EU is not stopping there.

“The Commission are preparing further legal advice on similar sanctions in relation to mackerel on both Iceland and Faroe,” the ministry wrote in its statement.

The move drew praise from Scotland's Fishing Minister Richard Lochhead, who said of the herring sanctions, "It is good news that at long last we have real movement towards sanctions that will see the irresponsible fishing of Faroe punished.”

Regarding mackerel, Lochhead said, "It is disappointing that no firm action has yet been agreed in relation to Iceland and Faroe consistent over fishing mackerel, and I hope that will come shortly.”

The move drew similar praise from the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association. Like Lochhead, the association’s chief executive, Ian Gatt, also approved of the herring sanctions, and said he hoped to see similar rules set for mackerel soon.

“We welcome this first step towards delivering a sanctions measure against the Faroese for their over-fishing of herring, which hopefully will provide new impetus that will also help resolve the issue of their excessive catching of mackerel,” Gatt said. “We believe that any sanctions brought against Faroe for the over-fishing of the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock should also apply to mackerel because they catch both species together in what is essentially a mixed fishery.”

Both Gatt and Lochhead urged the EU to reach out to the new Icelandic government to reopen negotiations in what has been dubbed the "Mackerel Wars," but both said if Iceland does not cooperate, then sanctions should be imposed immediately.

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