A new round of mackerel talks between EU, Norway, Faroese Islands and Iceland failed last week. EU commissioner Maria Damnaki and Norwegian minister of fisheries, Lisbeth Berg-Hansen are exspressing disappointment and grave concern.
Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, on behalf of the European Union, and Lisbehth Berg-Hansen, Minister of Fisheries, on behalf of Norway, have expressed their disappointment and grave concern following the inconclusive outcome of the meeting on mackerel fishery in the North-East Atlantic, held in Reykjavik from 14 to 16 February 2012 between the EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands (the so-called coastal states), they sayes in a joint statement.
In spite of five rounds of consultations in autumn 2011 and early 2012, at which the EU and Norway submitted three series of proposals, it is particularly disappointing that neither Iceland nor the Faroe Islands really engaged in the negotiation process. It is regrettable that neither Iceland nor the Faroe Islands have made proposals, which would have respected the zonal attachment principles and historical fishing, on which stock sharing arrangements have been negotiated by those same Parties in the past.
The joint EU/Norway proposals, made during the negotiations, offered Iceland and the Faroe Islands a considerably increased share. They would also have allowed Icelandic and Faroese vessels to fish a significant part of their quota share in EU and Norwegian waters, where the value of the fish is significantly higher than in Icelandic or Faroese waters.
Whilst the Union and Norway appreciate the key role of fisheries in the Icelandic and Faroese economies, Iceland and the Faroe Islands seem to neglect the dependency that coastal communities in the Union and Norway have on the stock. Mackerel fishing has been an important source of income for decades in our coastal communities, for many thousands of fishermen operating both in large-scale and artisanal fisheries. Iceland is the newcomer in the mackerel fishery.
The EU and Norway have built up the mackerel stock on a sustainable basis. This sustainability is being directly threatened by the recent development of new and unilateral fisheries by Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
The EU and Norway recognise that the change in the migration pattern in recent years, due to the expansion of the stock, justifies a modified sharing arrangement. However Icelandic mackerel fisheries have increased from almost zero catch in 2006 to catches of 156,802 tonnes in the Icelandic Zone in 2011, whilst Faroese catch levels have increased six-fold over two years to 150,000 tonnes in 2011. If the EU and Norway had followed the same Icelandic and Faroese logic for the justification of setting quotas, then the total fishing pressure on the stock would go totally out of control. Such developments are, in the view of the Union and Norway, inconsistent with sustainable management and in violation of international commitments by Iceland and the Faroe Islands to co-operate with other Parties.
The Union and Norway call on Iceland and the Faroe Islands to reduce their current unsustainable fishing levels. We remain ready in the future to continue to seek a reasonable and fair quota sharing arrangement, which will respect the rights and obligations of all Parties.