Iceland reports impasse on mackerel quota fight


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
October 23, 2014

Just when the industry thought the Mackerel Wars were over, a new statement from the Icelandic government indicates there is still no agreement over Iceland’s mackerel quotas.

All parties in ongoing negotiations met in London in a three-day discussion from 21 to 23 October, but emerged without an agreement on Iceland’s mackerel quota, according to a statement from Iceland’s Ministry of Industries and Innovation.

“The scientific advice from [the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas] on total allowable catch for 2015 was presented and reflected a strong status of the stock,” the ministry said. “Scientific research also demonstrates continued massive presence of the stock in Icelandic waters. Regrettably, however, parties failed to reach an agreement on a comprehensive management of the stock as one coastal state was not in position to agree on a share for Iceland which other parties had consented to.”

Iceland and the Faroe Islands have been locked in a fight with the EU and Norway over quotas for mackerel, an ongoing dispute labeled the Mackerel Wars by industry media. Iceland and the Faroes have argued that mackerel stocks have migrated north into their waters, meaning they can safely and sustainably fish for the small pelagics at much higher levels than the EU and Norway deemed safe.

The dispute reached a peak when the European Commission issued herring and mackerel trade sanctions against the Faroes last summer, with threats to do the same to Iceland.

Marathon talks followed, leading to an agreement in June of this year with the Faroes, and promising developments with Iceland as well, but a new report on mackerel stocks drove the annual discussion this year.

"I find it very unfortunate that the Coastal States are still not able to reach a comprehensive agreement on the management of this important stock,” Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, Iceland’s fisheries minister, said in a statement. “It is also of great concern that the same coastal states, responsible states on managing sustainable fisheries in the Northeast Atlantic, seem to fail in agreeing on the management of the shared pelagic stocks in the region. Iceland continues to be committed to cooperate with the other Coastal States in securing sustainable management of all these stocks based on scientific advice.”

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