Iceland praises new ICES mackerel limit
The Icelandic government welcomed the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) newest mackerel catch levels as a vindication of their ongoing position that mackerel stocks have gone up off the Icelandic coast.
The ICES 2014 total catch limit is set at 889,886 metric tons (MT), which is a 64 percent increase over last year’s total. ICES also indicated mackerel stocks are migrating north. Iceland has maintained for several years now that stocks are migrating, and used this as justification for higher quotas, despite strong backlash from the EU and Norway for the high quotas. Now, Iceland is citing the recent ICES data as proof that its quotas are reasonable.
“The advice for total allowable catch 2014 issued by ICES recognizes the fact that a massive amount of mackerel inhabit the Northeast Atlantic, including in Iceland’s waters,” said Sigurgeir Þorgeirsson, who has represented Iceland in ongoing quota negotiations. “We believe strongly that mackerel catch quotas must be grounded in scientific data and an agreement on how to share the stock must reflect these realities."
Iceland and the Faroe Islands have both increased their quotas on mackerel and herring despite coastal EU members' objections. Previous negotiations have deadlocked, but Iceland initiated new discussions after the EU leviedtrade sanctions against the Faroe Islands over the summer, with threats to do the same against Iceland. Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, Iceland’s fisheries and agriculture minister, said Iceland is still committed to working with the EU and Norway toward a mutually-agreeable quota.
“With our focus on sustainable fisheries, Iceland will continue to work hard for an agreement between the coastal states in order to secure sustainable management of the mackerel stock,” Jóhannsson said.