Mackerel talks break down again

By

Lindsey Partos, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Paris

Published on
December 12, 2010

Negotiations over mackerel quotas with the Faeroe Islands have broken down in a move that could “jeopardize the sustainability” of mackerel stock in the North Atlantic, according to Scottish fishermen.

The failure on Thursday for the European Union, the Faeroes and Norway to hammer out a joint management plan for mackerel in 2011 garnered anger and astonishment from the Scots, for whom mackerel is the most valuable stock.

“It is unbelievable that after four rounds of negotiations it was not possible to reach an agreement due to the unrealistic demands of the Faroese, and before then, Iceland,” said Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association.

While MEP Struan Stevenson, senior VP of the European Parliament’s fisheries committee, accused the Faeroes and Iceland of “trampling over the good fisheries management of Scottish fishermen with their recklessly enormous quotas.”

The talks kicked off this week some five months after Iceland and the Faeroes sparked fury among Scottish fishermen by setting unilateral mackerel quotas far higher than catches in previous years.

The Faeroes set its 2010 mackerel quota at 85,000 metric tons, more than three times last year’s quota, while Iceland targeted 130,000 metric tons. The entire EU mackerel quota for 2010 came in at 130,000 metric tons.

On Friday, Stevenson called for the European Commission and EU member states to “get tough” and repeated his call for a blockade of Iceland and the Faeroes at EU ports.

Speaking to SeafoodSource on Friday, the spokesperson for EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki declined to comment on any potential action by the EC but confirmed the EC “will now report to the Fisheries Council on Monday and Tuesday next week to assess the situation.”

EU ministers gather this week for their annual meeting to carve out 2011 fishing quotas between the states.

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