Fish leaders urge negotiators to take tough stand at mackerel talks –

Fish leaders urge negotiators to take tough stand at mackerel talks Published:  29 August, 2012

FISHING industry leaders in Norway and the European Union have urged negotiators to play hardball with Iceland as a new attempt is made to solve the long running mackerel dispute.

They met with EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki on Monday. The negotiations are due to open in London on September 3rd. Norway has been particularly outspoken accusing the Icelanders and Faroese of fish piracy over their large self declared mackerel quotas. Iceland has consistently defended its stance saying that the mackerel in Icelandic waters and it is for them to decide how much should be taken, also arguing that stocks are in a healthy state.

The fishing  leaders from the EU and Norway described the meeting with Ms Damanaki as both positive and constructive. They urged her to use all her powers to secure a fair deal,  with Audun Marak, chief executive of the Norwegian Fishing Vessel Owners Association  (Fiskebåt ) arguing that no deal was better than a bad deal.

Ms Damanaki was told of the latest survey showing the state of mackerel stocks  which shows an increase in northern waters but less so in Icelandic waters.

They industry also put forward a number of demands and principles which they said should be adhered to. They said that ‘bad behaviour’ by Iceland and the Faroe Islands should not be rewarded in any way, adding that the quota demands from these two states was unfair.

They also said that both the EU and Norway should be prepared to use sanctions against Icelandic fish products and if there is no agreement talks over Iceland’s application to join the EU should be suspended.

They strongly urged that Greenland should not be given the status of a coastal state or become part of a future distribution agreement.

 Fiskebåt director Audun Maråk said the mackerel stock is in very good condition and there is no population argument to conclude an unacceptable mackerel deal.