Scotland Accuses Iceland of Overfishing Mackerel Skip to content

Scotland Accuses Iceland of Overfishing Mackerel

The Scottish government is accusing Icelandic fishermen of having caught five times their share of mackerel, which is described as a “scandal” in a BBC online news story. Iceland is not part of a multi-national agreement on the division of the mackerel quota.

According to the BBC, Icelandic fishermen argued that they caught so much mackerel by accident when they were fishing herring. Leaders of the Scottish fishing industry do not find that explanation believable.

Fishing in Grundarfjördur, Iceland. The picture is unrelated to the story. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

Sigurdur Sveinn Sverrisson, information officer at the Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners (LÍÚ) told that the BBC article is not based on solid arguments. “We are not part of the agreement and all of this mackerel has been caught within Icelandic fishing limits.”

Sverrisson added that a representative for the Icelandic fishing industry had recently been invited to participate in discussions on the control of mackerel fishing in the North Atlantic, but was not permitted to contribute.

“He was not given a seat at the negotiating table,” Sverrisson stated, describing that the Icelandic representative had been made to sit “in the hallway.” Sverrisson said it is a very peculiar position for Iceland not to be able to participate in these discussions because the mackerel stock “migrates continuously into Icelandic waters.”

According to the multi-national agreement on mackerel fishing in the North Atlantic, Scottish ships are entitled to more than half of the mackerel catch, which is estimated to be worth tens of millions of pounds for the Scottish economy (GBP 10 million = USD 16 million, EUR 12 million).

Other states are entitled to a smaller share of the catch and Iceland is permitted to catch around 20,000 tons of mackerel. Sverrisson said that number of 20,000 tons is something that the other states had decided and that Iceland is not obligated to respect that, “because we are not part of the agreement.”

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