Iceland and Faroes urged to negotiate mackerel peace deal –

Iceland and Faroes urged to negotiate mackerel peace deal Published:  10 September, 2010

THE UK Fisheries minister Richard Benyon has urged Iceland and the Faroe Islands to come to the negotiating table and try to settle the mackerel dispute.Although the dispute is now under discussion by the EU and the European Parliament, so far there has been little obvious progress.

Mr Benyon said of the decision of the two countries to give themselves unilateral  quotas: “This is unacceptable behaviour that places a substantial burden on the fishery and could seriously undermine its long-term sustainability.I urge both Iceland and the Faroe Islands to negotiate to reach a fair and realistic settlement.”A Faroese vessel, Jupiter, was turned away from Peterhead last month after being blockaded by local fishermen. Scottish fishermen could be the biggest losers if Iceland and the Faroes continue with their present policy.

At the request of the European fisheries committee, Scottish Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson is in the Faroe Islands meeting representatives of the local fishing industry to try find a way through the dispute.He said: “I sincerely hope that we can resolve this dispute through negotiation, although given that Iceland has already admitted catching 75 per cent of its massively-increased quota (130,000 tons) , extreme urgency is now required to prevent a catastrophe in mackerel stocks.

“I have argued throughout this dispute that we need to negotiate from a position of strength, using the possibility of a blockade of Icelandic and Faroese fishing boats as a bargaining tool.

Mr Stevenson added: “Some have said this threatens jobs in Scotland, but Iceland and the Faroes have far more to lose, as their economies are heavily dependent on fishing. Of course, we will all suffer if the mackerel fishery is destroyed. I am more than willing to extend the olive branch, but they must know that we mean business.”