Blame game after mackerel talks failure –

Blame game after mackerel talks failure Published:  07 March, 2014

BLAME, recrimination and fresh demands for sanctions  against Iceland and the Faroe islands have followed the breakdown of the  mackerel dispute talks in Edinburgh on Thursday night with Greenland complicating an already complex issue.

However, despite the failure,  bilateral talks between Norway and the EU to agree quota swap arrangements between themselves are underway which will please Scottish and Danish fishermen in particular. A deal could be reached this weekend and  mackerel is now part of these new negotiations.Norway’s Fisheries Minister Elisabeth Aspaker said afterwards she was sorry the mackerel talks ended in failure. “Norway went far in these negotiations and it is difficult to understand why it was not possible to find a balanced solution,” the minister added.

It has now emerged that Iceland and the EU’s request to fish for North East Atlantic mackerel in Greenland waters was one of the main stumbling blocks after it was opposed by Norway.Audun Maråk, managing  director of the Norwegian Fishing Vessel Owners Federation (Fiskebat) confirmed afterwards that it was a key factor in the failure of the talks.  He said such a proposal was unacceptable. Mr Maråk also criticised what he described as “EU misinformation” during the negotiations .Meanwhile, demands for tougher sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes are increasing. Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, accused Iceland and the Faroes of being totally “unrealistic and intransigent” and called on the EU to impose meaningful sanctions against the two fishing states and also to block any move by Iceland to join the EU. “The EU must stand up for the rights of the member states,” he stressed. His comments are almost certain to be echoed by Norwegian fishermen.

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