Allegations and threats by the EU regarding mackerel fisheries rejected

October 6, 2010 10:01

In a Press Conference in Brussels on 27 September 2010, Maria Damanaki, the Fisheries Commissioner of the European Union, harshly criticised mackerel fisheries by Iceland and the Faroe Islands and made unjustified allegations that have no foundation. Damanaki alleged that Iceland and the Faroe Islands are solely responsible for the fact that the total catch of mackerel this year will foreseeably exceed the sustainable level considerably. Finally, she threatened that the EU might take action with respect to Iceland and the Faroe Islands and, in particular, take the EU´s annual fisheries arrangements with those two countries under review, reports with reference to Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture of Iceland.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture would like to convey the following in response to these allegations and threats:

Ever since 1999, Iceland has requested to participate in the coastal States consultations on the management of mackerel. However, it was not until this year, despite clear evidence for many years, that the other coastal States recognized Iceland´s status as a coastal State with respect to mackerel. Subsequently, consultations were held between the coastal States, Iceland, the EU, the Faroe Islands and Norway.

The coastal States failed to reach agreement on the management of mackerel and the allocation of shares for the year 2010. Consequently, they have all unilaterally decided their shares for this year. Iceland was the first party to take decision on its share which took into account the changed migration pattern of the mackerel and the fisheries in previous years. As is well known, mackerel has in recent years significantly increased its migration into the Icelandic zone and up to the coast all around the island. This is confirmed by international research on the distribution and size of mackerel.

The Icelandic authorities strongly reject the allegation that Iceland bears the primary responsibility for the fact that the total catch of mackerel by the coastal States will exceed the scientific advice limit. The EU, the Faroe Islands and Norway carry no less responsibility than Iceland for keeping the fishery within a sustainable limit. It should be emphasized that it is the joint obligation of the four coastal States to establish a comprehensive management of the mackerel fisheries in order to ensure their sustainability, and Iceland´s right to fish in this context is no less than the right of the others.     

The coastal States consultations on the management of mackerel for next year will take place in London from 12-14 October 2010.

Obviously, threats of actions such as the termination of unrelated agreements are not an appropriate method of conducting negotiations between sovereign States and the aforementioned threats by the EU do not serve to promote a solution of the issue.

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