As the dispute over mackerel in the North Atlantic drags on, European Union Fisheries Minister Maria Damanaki and Norwegian Fisheries Minister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen on Wednesday expressed concern that the Faeroe Islands is chartering foreign vessels to catch its unilateral mackerel quota, which they deemed “a clear move away from responsible, modern fisheries management.”
Both Damanaki and Berg-Hansen said in a joint statement they are exploring “all possible options” to stop the Faeroes from doing so and called on Iceland and the Faeroes to return to the negotiating table.
The deadlock over mackerel — pitting the EU and Norway against Iceland and the Faeroes — has dragged on for months despite numerous rounds of negotiations. This year, Iceland and the Faeroes set their mackerel quotas far higher than catches in previous years after mackerel stocks increased significantly in North Atlantic. But the EU and Norway argue that Iceland and the Faeroes defied the coastal states management plan for mackerel by setting their quotas too high.
Both the European Association of Fish Producers Organizations (EAFPO) and the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SFPA) praised Damanaki and Berg-Hansen for coming together to fight Iceland’s and the Faeroes’ actions.
“We are pleased that the commissioner has reacted positively to our proposed action plan, and we are very hopeful that in the near future both the commissioner and the Norwegian fisheries minister will be successful in adopting measures to stop this reckless and irresponsible behavior by Iceland and the Faeroe Islands,” said SPFA CEO Ian Gatt.
Added the EAFPO: “Both countries act completely outside the current management plan for this stock and outside the scientific advice by ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea). For the Norwegian and European pelagic industries the mackerel stock is their lifeblood, and the lack of effective measures by the EU and Norway aiming at bringing both countries back to regular management of the mackerel stock is extremely disappointing.”