SPPA glad to see Iceland in new mackerel talks

The Scottish Pelagic Processors Association (SPPA), speaking for the U.K. mackerel industry, said this week that the industry welcomes efforts by Iceland’s government to return to negotiations on mackerel quotas, but still does not agree with Iceland’s assessment of the mackerel stocks.

“While we welcome (Icelandic Fisheries Minister Sigurour) Jóhannsson’s decision to negotiate, we are concerned that the Icelandic government seems unable to back-up its claims about the mackerel stock,” Ian McFadden, the trade association’s chair, wrote in a letter to the ministry.

Iceland, along with the Faroe Islands, have been the target of strong criticism by European governments and environmental groups for fishing mackerel at quotas that critics say are too high to maintain healthy stock levels.

This week, the European Commission decided to issue mackerel and herring sanctions against the Faroes after that country refused to reduce its own self-imposed quotas on both species. As the commission announced the sanctions, officials said they were also considering similar sanctions against Iceland.

Just a few weeks before the commission handed down the Faroese sanctions, Iceland’s fisheries ministry extended an invitation to all relevant parties to sit down to negotiations over quotas once more, a move the SPPA praised.

The SPPA has cited several statements Jóhannsson himself has made about mackerel stocks and feeding habits, coupled with contradictory statements from other scientists.

“A number of the Icelandic government’s claims regarding North East Atlantic mackerel go against internationally recognized scientific data — and some actually contradict information previously given by the Icelandic government’s own scientist, a recognized expert in mackerel stocks,” McFadden wrote.

Despite his criticism, McFadden said he and SPPA appreciate Jóhannsson moving for more discussions and want to participate in discussions with him.

“We would be happy to meet Mr Jóhannsson to share our experience of mackerel fishing and processing over the last 30 years and to use the significant ICES data to discuss a science-based solution,” he wrote.


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