Coveney gains support for sanctions at EU Fisheries Council meeting –

Coveney gains support for sanctions at EU Fisheries Council meeting Published:  29 June, 2011

Simon Coveney TD, Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, has called for urgent and meaningful actions against Iceland and Faroe Islands for their irresponsible and unacceptable fishing of mackerel outside international arrangements and in total disregard for the scientific advice for that stock.

Minister Coveney said: “I am appalled that we are facing a situation where the mackerel stock, the most valuable stock for the Irish fleet, is under severe threat of depletion and potentially permanent damage because of the irresponsible actions of Iceland and the Faroe Islands. The mackerel fishery is worth 125 million euro to the Irish coastal communities and Ireland’s quota is 70,000 tonnes.  In contrast the Faroes and Iceland are fishing almost 300,000 tonnes  outside of the international quota arrangements without any recognition for the sustainability of the stock and in complete disregard for responsible management procedures set down under UN law”.

Numerous attempts by the EU and Norway over the last number of years to bring Iceland and the Faroe Islands into a fair and sustainable management framework for mackerel have failed.   Both countries have not only continued to ignore the international governance requirements but have year on year increased their level of fishing. At this time, the huge outtake from the stock will result in its depletion and the loss of the economic returns to the Irish fishing industry and the associated jobs in processing in the north west and south west of the country. 

“At Council today, I sought urgent measures in the form of trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes to be put in place. I sought and secured the support of key Member States – UK, Spain, France, Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands for the introduction of trade sanctions applicable immediately to mackerel and other pelagic products.  I am pleased that Commissioner Damanaki gave a commitment to bring forward legislative proposals for trade sanction measures by the autumn and to work to have them in place in good time for the 2012 mackerel fishing season in Iceland and the Faroe Islands”, said the Minister.

There is a common mackerel fish stock in Irish, Norwegian and EU waters.  These fish transit through Icelandic and Faroes waters during their migration from Norway to spawn off the south-west of Ireland.  The stock has been managed up until two years ago under a UN fisheries management framework involving all coastal states.  Iceland and the Faroes are now refusing to come within this framework and have set and fished against unilateral self-set quotas amounting to almost 300,000 tonnes.  This level of fishing is half the level that is set for the EU and Norway which have up to now had over 95% of the quotas for the mackerel stock.