EU to Discuss Mackerel Fishing with Iceland Skip to content

EU to Discuss Mackerel Fishing with Iceland

Representatives of the European Commission will meet with representatives of the Icelandic and Faroese fishing authorities in Brussels next month to discuss the countries’ mackerel fishing, which has caused heated debates in Europe.

Fishing in Iceland. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

This was announced by the European Commission’s spokesperson for fisheries Oliver Drewes at a press conference yesterday, Fréttabladid reports.

At the press conference Drewes reviewed the EU’s dispute with Iceland and the Faroe Islands over mackerel fishing and emphasized that the Icelandic and Faroese attitude would harm the mackerel stock with overfishing. “They are overfishing more than which is justifiable on the basis of scientific evidence,” Drewes said.

“[The European Commission] can have all the meetings they want. We have just as much right to fish within our fishing territories as they have to fish within theirs,” commented Fridrik J. Arngrímsson, managing director of the Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners (LÍÚ).

Fréttabladid was unable to reach Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Jón Bjarnason for comment.

The mackerel dispute has reached new heights. On Monday the Scottish European Parliamentarian Struan Stevenson demanded that the EU member states use business coercions against Iceland and the Faroe Islands such as a landing ban on fish.

On Tuesday the Financial Times compared the dispute to the Cod Wars between Iceland and the UK in the 1950s and 1970s and quoted Maria Damanaki, the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, as saying that Iceland is taking a significant risk with its mackerel fishing as it might have a negative impact on the country’s application process to the EU.

Damanaki said she had written a letter to Stefan Füle, the European Commissioner for Enlargement, saying it isn’t possible to justify the mackerel quota of the Icelandic fishing fleet. The letter was made public on Tuesday.

Icelandic fishing vessels can catch 130,000 tons of mackerel this year. Arngrímsson said almost all the quota has been caught already, as more than 100,000 tons of mackerel have been brought ashore. “We could have caught a lot more but we limited the quota,” he said. The mackerel is mostly frozen and sold to foreign markets.

Click here to read more about the mackerel dispute and here to read more about Iceland’s application process to the EU.

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