Iceland holds ‘constructive’ mackerel talks


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
September 9, 2013

After a weekend meeting of the Coastal States group to try to work out a solution to the “Mackerel Wars” dispute, the Icelandic government called the meeting “constructive,” and confirmed the talks would continue.

The Coastal States group represents coastal EU members, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, all of which have been locked in debate over the Icelandic and Faroese fishing quotas for mackerel and herring. The 7-8 September meeting was an attempt to break the deadlock between the disputing nations.

“The meeting generated a constructive, positive discussion that laid the groundwork for negotiations to continue,” said Sigurgeir Thorgeirsson, Iceland’s chief negotiator in the dispute. “Iceland looks forward to continuing constructive negotiations.”

Critics of the quotas argue that Iceland and the Faroes are overfishing both mackerel and herring stocks, putting them in danger. The Icelandic and Faroese governments have responded by calling for new stock assessments, noting scientific data that indicates the stocks have migrated into their waters, making it safe for them to fish higher volumes.

The dispute, which has been simmering for years, came to a boil this summer when the European Commission finally made good on its threats to levy herring and mackerel trade sanctions against the Faroese, with promises to follow suit with Iceland.

The Icelandic government, in advance of those sanctions, called for the weekend Coastal States talks, and confirmed the annual Coastal States Meeting will be taking place as planned from 23-25 October in London.

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