Faroe Islands, Norway mackerel quota agreement reached


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
November 24, 2014

Fisheries officials from Norway and the Faroe Islands have reached a new agreement on mackerel quotas for 2015, despite incomplete advices from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), according to a statement from the European Commission.

The 21 November agreement sets a total shared catch limit of 1 million metric tons. The agreement also set a “reserve equivalent” of 15.6 percent of that total for “new adherents to the arrangement, such as Iceland.”

Iceland and the Faroes were both locked for several years in bitter disagreement with Norway and the EU over quotas in what was described as the “Mackerel Wars.” Norway and the EU accused Iceland and the Faroes of overfishing, while both nations countered that stock migrations into their waters justify higher catches.

The dispute came to a head in August 2013 when the EU issued herring and mackerel trade sanctions against the Faroes, with threats to do the same against Iceland.

After a series of lengthy negotiations, settlements in March 2014 led to the sanctions being lifted in June.  While the Faroes remain on good terms with Norway and the EU, Iceland has renewed its objections based on new stock information.

In a statement, the commission noted ICES’ lack of updated information.

“It was unfortunate that during 2014, ICES had been unable to deliver their advice on the basis of which the parties could have developed a revised management plan as foreseen in the five-year arrangement,” the commission’s statement read. “However, the parties did agree in the absence of this advice to base the TAC (Total Allowable Catch) for 2015 on the precautionary reference points established at the last benchmarking exercise on the stock in February 2014.”

“I very much welcome this agreement on mackerel for 2015,” said Karmenu Vella, European commissioner for the environment, maritime affairs and fisheries. “It is our joint responsibility to manage this resource in a sustainable manner. We look forward to the early establishment of a long-term management strategy in line with the ICES advice.”

In other news, the commission also announced a new three-year fisheries protocol between the EU and Guinea-Bissau. The agreement allows up to 40 EU vessels, mostly from Spain, Portugal, France, Greece and Italy, to operate in local waters after a two-year interruption.

In return, the EU will contribute EUR 9.2 million (USD 11.4 million) to the country for each year of the agreement. Of those contributions, EUR 3 million (USD 3.7 million) will take the form of investments in development of the local fisheries sector. The funding will improve Guinea-Bissau’s monitoring, control and surveillance capacity and sanitary controls. The funding will also support artisanal fisheries and encourage scientific cooperation.

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