"Friendly" exchange of views on mackerel dispute – Fishupdate.com

“Friendly” exchange of views on mackerel dispute Published:  24 August, 2011

EXPLORATORY talks between officials from Iceland, Norway and the European Union have been held to try to find a solution to the ongoing mackerel dispute.

Iceland’s main newspaper Morgunbladid has reported that the discussions  took place at Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries offices in Reykjavik, and described them as a friendly exchange of views. But the Ministry declined to comment on whether any progress was made. However, the signs look a little brighter as it was agreed to hold a further meeting in London in late September.

At the meeting were Sigurgeir Thorgeirsson, from Iceland’s Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, Lowri Evans, representing the European Union, and Jørn Krog, from the Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries, along with a number of other officials.

Both Iceland and the Faroe Islands have given themselves mackerel quotas of 146,000 tons and 150,000 tons respectively, which the EU and Norway says is not only excessive but threatens to permanently damage the valuable mackerel fishery.

Both Scotland and Ireland say that their pelagic fishing operations will be put at risk if Iceland and the Faroes are allowed to continue. However, Iceland argues that their waters are currently awash with mackerel, even to the point that the fish are getting into harbours and ports. They also point to Iceland’s record in fish conservation in relation to cod and haddock and say they take the same care over mackerel.

Norway and the EU have banned mackerel products from these two countries, but there are still plenty of alternative markets around the world willing to pay premium prices for the fish. News that talks are getting under way once more will bring some relief to the fishing industries of all parties, but similar talks were held last year and got nowhere.