Iceland questions UK minister over Common Fisheries Policy – Fishupdate.com

Iceland questions UK minister over Common Fisheries Policy Published:  12 August, 2004

THE UK fishing minister has been closely questioned on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy while on a visit to Iceland.

Ben Bradshow told www.fishupdate.com that the Icelanders were keen to talk about the

implications of reform – a possible hint that Iceland may be about to turn

in favour of EU membership in the wake of enlargement.

“Iceland looks over its shoulder at Norway and the Icelanders seem to think

that Norway is likely to resume the debate on EU entry fairly soon. The

Icelanders clearly do not want to be left out,” Mr Bradshaw said.

Commitment to join the EU would be a major volte face for Iceland, given previous heavy opposition whenever the suggestion has been mooted in the past. Government leaders told Fishing Monthly on a visit to Iceland in February that they saw no benefit in joining the EU formally, particularly as Iceland is a signatory to the Schengen agreement allowing its citizens free access to the EU.

Meanwhile, Bradshaw said that Icelandic interests had told him that their

fisheries management system was, by and large, working fairly well, although

it was not necessarily applicable in all its elements to the UK given the

two countries’ different traditions.

The thing that had struck him during his visit, was the spirit of strong

collaboration in the Icelandic fishing industry, involving scientists,

fishermen and politicians.

And in discussions he had with fishermen, he said they felt there was a need

to cut back on cod catching. Although fisheries management in Iceland had

stabilised the system, the country’s cod stocks had not really recovered

fully, and fishermen therefore felt that reducing catch levels could be the

answer.

Mr Bradshaw also noted that the Icelandic industry had one third of the

number of fishing boats that the UK had, yet they caught three times more

than the UK in volume terms.