Disappointing mackerel negotiations – Fishupdate.com

Disappointing mackerel negotiations Published:  12 December, 2011

Following yet another unsuccessful attempt to reach an agreement on multilateral management measures for mackerel for 2012, the Minister of Fisheries of the Faroe Islands, Jákup Mikkelsen, expressed his disappointment with the lack of progress in the negotiations.

The coastal states met in Clonakilty, Ireland this week for another round of consultations. “We had high hopes for this meeting, but instead of moving forwards towards a four-party agreement, it seems that the negotiations have taken a big step backwards,” said Minister Mikkelsen.

“Making changes in the allocation of a shared fish resource is no easy task. However, parties need to address the issue in a realistic manner and acknowledge the obligation shared by all coastal states to seek international consensus on a new management agreement. A new agreement must take into account both the changes in distribution of the mackerel stock in the region, as well as the genuine interests of all stakeholders in the fishery,”said Minister Mikkelsen. 

Minister Mikkelsen said that the Faroe Islands was not a newcomer in the mackerel fisheries. Mackerel fisheries had been carried out in Faroese waters for decades. And Faroese vessels had participated in the mackerel fisheries in international, Norwegian and EU waters under relevant agreements.

However, changes in the mackerel distribution in recent years put the Faroe Islands in a much more central position in the summer distribution of mackerel, according to the Minister. 

“Information from the fishery and from scientific research clearly shows that mackerel is in great abundance and density in Faroese waters for several months of the year, benefitting from the excellent feeding conditions in Faroese waters. The biomass of the mackerel stock increases substantially – on average 50% in weight – while in Faroese waters. Research also shows that Faroese waters are both a spawning and a nursery area for mackerel.” Minister Mikkelsen underlined that a new sharing arrangement needs to reflect all these factors.

Despite the failure of this week’s consultations to make any real progress, the parties agreed to resume the consultations early next year. Even though the talks this week have been disappointing it is important to keep the consultations going, said Minister Mikkelsen who urged the coastal states to ensure that further consultations focus clearly and constructively on the need for a forward-looking approach to the future sustainable management of the Northeast Atlantic mackerel in 2012 and beyond.