Atlantic mackerel talks resume in London

Negotiations over the northeast Atlantic mackerel quota are set to resume in London on Wednesday, as the European Union and Norway try to hammer out an agreement with Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

The deadlock has dragged on for months, as numerous rounds of talks have failed to reach an agreement. The EU and Norway contend that Iceland and the Faroes defied the coastal states management plan for mackerel by setting their quotas too high, collectively totaling 300,000 metric tons this year.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA) called the latest round of talks “a new opportunity” for the EU and Norway to try to broker an agreement with Iceland and the Faroes. But the two groups say it’s “likely” that a resolution won’t be forged this week and second round of talks will be held later this year.

“The mackerel stock in the northeast Atlantic is an incredibly precious resource that requires careful and integrated management and it is more important than ever that an acceptable deal is reached to ensure the future sustainability of the fishery,” said Ian Gatt, CEO of the SPFA.

The European Association of Fish Producers Organization’s North Pelagic Working Group (NPWG) is calling on the European Commission to enact sanctions on Iceland and the Faroes. “Now, 18 months later, it’s about to be presented to the European Parliament and Council, time should be allowed for the measure to be adopted and take its full effect,” said the NPWG.

Additionally, the NPWG argued that Iceland should be granted access to EU waters to harvest mackerel and that the Faroes should only be granted access to EU waters if its total catch is reduced.

“If the Faroes would request more access into EU waters, this could be considered on the condition that an increase of access to catch mackerel in EU waters should be paid by a lower share for the Faroe Islands in the sharing arrangement,” said the NPWG. “The price for access that the NPWG has calculated is 1 percent access would reduce the Faroese share with 3 percent.”

Negotiations in London are slated to run through Friday.


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