Mackerel talks to resume in Oslo

The deadlock over mackerel in the North Atlantic may soon come to an end, as a meeting is due to kick off in Oslo on Wednesday between the European Union, Norway, Iceland and the Faeroe Islands.

The dispute began in mid-2010 when Iceland and the Faeroes set unilateral mackerel quotas far higher than catches in previous years, angering the EU and Norway, which feared for the long-term sustainability of the mackerel fishery. Since then, the dispute has only intensified, as several rounds of talks have failed. Then in January, EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki blocked Iceland from landing its mackerel in EU ports.

But on Tuesday, the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA) expressed hope that the three-day meeting in Oslo would bring the months-long row to an end.

“We hope that after a period of reflection that Icelandic and Faroese representatives at the talks will recognize the need to strike a deal, which is essential given that the stock is still in good health,” said SPFA CEO Ian Gatt. “It is vital for the future of the Scottish mackerel sector that there is restoration of sensible and responsible mackerel management arrangements in the northeast Atlantic so as to secure the long-term sustainable future of the stock. However, while reaching a deal is important, it must not be done so at any cost and it needs to ensure that Scotland’s traditional mackerel catching rights are not compromised.”

Added Scottish politician Liam McArthur, the liberal democrat’s fisheries spokesperson, “The ongoing lack of a resolution over mackerel stocks is extremely disappointing, though I am encouraged that the EU seems committed to breaking the logjam. I hope that after several weeks of reflection, Iceland and Faeroe Island representatives will come to this meeting in a more conciliatory frame of mind. Their position to date has been dangerously cavalier and puts at risk the future of this vital fish stock. For the sake of the mackerel stock and the industry that depends on it, common sense must prevail and an agreement must be reached.”


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