Mackerel deal will damage stocks says Iceland –

Mackerel deal will damage stocks says Iceland Published:  31 March, 2014

ICELANDIC fishing and environmental organisations have accused the European Union and Norway of agreeing to a deal which they say now threatens the stability of the North East Atlantic stock.

For four years Iceland and the Faroe Islands have been locked in a prolonged and sometimes acrimonious dispute with Brussels and Oslo over the unilateral mackerel quotas they had given themselves – 145,000 tons in the case of Iceland and 150,000 tons for the Faroese.

Both countries faced a threat of sanctions after they were accused of causing long term damage to the fishery. Now the finger of blame is pointing the other way.

Two weeks ago the EU and Norway reached a deal with the Faroese which has given them a catch quota of 156,240 tons for this year – 6,000 tons higher than they set themselves 15 months ago.

This has left Iceland out on a limb and the Reykjavik government is being urged to come in from the cold.

But Kolbein Arnason, a director of the Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners Federation, has questioned whether his country should be part of a deal which he believes to be unsustainable and will lead to over-exploitation.

He said: ‘In the light of previous statements by the European Union it is strange that a fishing deal has been reached for the next five years that is almost 18 per cent higher above the advice from ICES.

The ICES recommendation (still to be rubber stamped) is for a total catch of 890,000 tons but under the deal the take will now be 1,470,000 tons.

He believes the prospects for the stock are serious could greatly harm the fishery. He says the focus of any international arrangements must be on sustainable fishing.

Mr Aranason said Iceland could have reached a deal in Edinburgh last week had it not been torpedoed by the Norwegians.

He was backed in his criticism by the Iceland Environment and Natural Resources Committee which said the level of fishing that will result from the agreement was far from being sustainable and harm would result.

Spokesman Sjurdur Skaale said given the possibility of frequent disagreements over this fishery, it was also vital any deal had a solid legal foundation.

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