Are sanctions against Iceland, Faroes imminent?

After a third round of talks to settle the months-long dispute over Atlantic mackerel failed, the European Commission is again looking at issuing trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroe Islands, according to Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead.

The row pits the European Union and Norway against Iceland and the Faeroes, which increased their mackerel quotas significantly this year; the EU and Norway say Iceland and the Faeroes are putting the shared mackerel resource at risk of overfishing.

On Wednesday, Lochhead said the EC is discussing the possibility of sanctions at the Fisheries Council in Brussels this week, which he welcomed.

“We need to explore all options as we seek a resolution and with a sanctions proposal on the table that can be applied against any country engaging in unsustainable fishing,” he said. “This would give the EU more leverage … while providing added incentive for Faroes and Iceland to negotiate reasonably.”

Negotiations are scheduled to resume in Reykjavik, Iceland, on 25 January.

“Our priority continues to be securing an international agreement for the fishery in 2012,” added Lochhead. “However, we cannot stand back while this valuable stock is plundered. If we are to ensure mackerel is sustainably fished and Scottish industry safeguarded, it’s critical that we have power to use sanctions, as and when required.”

After last week’s talks failed, the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA) also welcomed the possibility of sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes. “It has been a long time in coming and will send a clear message to Iceland and the Faroes that the EU is serious about taking action against overfishing,” said SPFA CEO Ian Gatt.

Click here to read SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Jason Holland’s 28 October commentary “Fresh hope for mackerel solution?” >


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