Iceland defends mackerel fishing


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
May 14, 2013

As the European Fish Council continues to discuss possible sanctions against Iceland and the Faroe Islands for fishing above their mackerel quotas, the government of Iceland has issued a statement defending its fishing practices and offering to negotiate a settlement with its critic nations.

Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, Iceland’s minister of industries and innovation, said the current set of quotas unfairly skews the catch limits in favor of the EU and Norway, and doesn’t take into account the migration of mackerel stocks into Icelandic waters in recent years.

“The EU and Norway have claimed 90 percent of the recommended 2013 catch level, leaving only 10 percent for Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Russia combined,” he wrote. “We worry that this decision was made unilaterally despite research showing that up to 30 percent of the mackerel stock was in Iceland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in 2012.”

Sigfússon also claimed that mackerel in Icelandic waters have gained weight there, and future negotiations depend on scientific data that accurately reflects the current weight — and location — of the European mackerel stocks.

“We believe a diplomatic solution can be reached, but it has to respect scientific evidence and be fair to all countries, not just the biggest ones,” he wrote. “Applying economic sanctions will not contribute to a long-term solution but on the contrary make the mackerel issue more difficult to resolve.”

Sigfússon noted that Iceland has cut its 2013 mackerel catch by 15 percent in an effort to maintain sustainability.

“We are willing to cut further, if other countries do as well. Iceland’s government and fishing industry are eager to find a solution as soon as possible, provided other Coastal States also will negotiate in good faith,” he said.

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