Iceland mackerel quota creates ire

The Icelandic Ministry of Industries and Innovation announced the country’s 2013 mackerel quota would be 123,182 metric tons (MT), which is in alignment with scientific recommendations from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

This is the second year in a row that Iceland has lowered its catch quota, which was 154,825 metric tons in 2011.

“Iceland is taking fewer mackerel from the sea in 2013. The 15 percent reduction in the weight of our catch aligns with the recommendations from international scientific experts,” said Steingrímur Sigfússon, Iceland’s minister of industries and innovation. “Our 2013 mackerel quota continues our efforts to help preserve the mackerel stock, which is our top priority.”

Iceland’s news was not welcomed by the European Commission. "The Commission regrets Iceland's announcement of a unilateral fishing quota for mackerel. We regret that Iceland has decided its own quota unilaterally and not in consultation with its partners, for yet another year,” said Oliver Drewes, spokesperson for Maria Damanaki, EU commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries.

“Iceland's claim to reduce its quota conceals the fact that Iceland's unilateral quota remains excessively high, before and after the reduction.  Iceland awards itself almost a quarter (23 percent) of the entire scientifically justified quota for the North Atlantic mackerel stock, from a zero level a few years ago.  This leaves the 10 or more other fishing nations to share the remainder, therefore Iceland's mackerel fishery is still unsustainable and ignores the health of the mackerel fish stock as well as the legitimate interests of all other costal parties.”

“Science is clearly pointing to the need to reduce catches of mackerel.  The European Union and Norway have imposed on themselves much higher reductions in 2013.  The European Union and Norway have cut their catches by more than 89,000 MT, compared to Iceland's announced reduction of around 25, 000 MT. The commission remains committed to finding a multilateral solution with all coastal partners and appeals to Iceland to return to the negotiating table with an offer that is sustainable and constructive."

Scottish fishermen responded to Iceland’s announcement by claiming the country is still dodging negotiations

"Whilst Iceland is following the lead of the EU and Norway who have already reduced their mackerel quota by 15 percent, it is an inescapable fact that Iceland is still taking an excessively large share that is fished unilaterally and without any international management plan,” said Ian Gatt, CEO of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association.


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