Norway and the European Union have agreed on mackerel fishing quotas for next year, without consulting the Faroe Islands and Iceland.
The EU and Norway made their decision after the Faroe Islands and Iceland set their own fishing quotas, following failed talks.
“I am satisfied that the European Union and Norway take joint responsibility for mackerel management," Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Minister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen said in a press release.
The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in the northeast Atlantic is now set at 646,000 tons. Norway’s new quota is 183,069, and the EU’s 400,813, which includes the annual incremental increase in mackerel fishing quotas.
“In line with previous agreements between the EU and Norway, this means mutual access to increased fishing within the other’s economic area,” she said.
According to the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA) the UK will also have a share of approximately 190,000 tones of mackerel fishing for 2011, an increase of 14,000 on last year.
“We welcome the fact the EU and Norway have not been bullied into taking account of Iceland and Faroes irresponsible fisheries by ensuring that our long established historical share of the mackerel fishery has not been undermined,” SPFA chief executive Ian Gatt explained to Fish Information and Services (FIS).
Norway and the EU believe Iceland has threatened the mackerel population when it broke the responsible management plan last summer, catching 130,000 tones of mackerel instead of its 2,000 tones quota.
Last summer, Scottish anglers blocked Faroese vessels from landing their catch in Peterhead harbor and Norway supported their act, joining forces with Scotland to support the international efforts for responsible mackerel catching.
According to the EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki, Iceland will bear the consequences for their lack of cooperation towards a sustained management of the mackerel population.
A blockade of landing catches by Icelandic vessels to the EU ports could be among the repercussions of their behavior, the Financial Times (FT) reported.
In addition, Mrs. Damanaki has asked EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele to consider the mackerel dispute in Iceland’s candidacy for accession to the EU.
Iceland claims their catch was only proportional to the increase in their mackerel coastal stocks, however, and accuses Norway and the EU of unfair competition.
“The EU and Norway are not the sole owners of the mackerel stock and by taking almost all the recommended total allowable catch, they disregard the legitimate rights of the other two coastal states, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, as well as Russia,” Iceland’s chief negotiator, Tomas Heidar, told the FT.
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