Icelandic government responds to mackerel debate

Both Iceland’s ambassador to the United Kingdom and the chief negotiator  on mackerel fishing have issued statements today in regards to the ongoing mackerel dispute between Iceland and the United Kingdom. 

The Ambassador and the Chief Negotiator both stress on the fact that Iceland has repeatedly offered proposals that sustain the mackerel population and ensure a fair outcome for all countries. however, they claim that certain countries have responded with threats of sanctions on Iceland, while simultaneously demanding a vastly oversized portion of the mackerel catch.

Statement from Benedikt Jonsson, Ambassador of Iceland to the United Kingdom:

We are meeting with the Grimsby seafood industry and area residents to discuss the need for mackerel fishing countries to reach a compromise on fishing quotas. Icelandic fishing imports play an essential role in the Humberside economy, with 300,000,000 pounds of Icelandic seafood generating millions of pounds sterling in trade.

 For several years, Iceland has worked hard to reach an agreement with the so-called Coastal States of Norway, the Faroe Islands and the EU, including Scotland, which will ensure we all catch mackerel at sustainable levels. We have repeatedly offered proposals that sustain the mackerel population and ensure a fair outcome for all countries. Unfortunately, certain countries have responded with attacks on Iceland and threats of sanctions, while simultaneously demanding a vastly oversized portion of the mackerel catch. Their actions are harming the mackerel stock or and fail to support the seafood industries of the Coastal States.

 The facts are clear: Icelandic fishing is generally recognised as sustainable and responsible. And our fishing industry has a large direct impact on the economy of England, as recently recognised by Austin Mitchell MP, who said that a ban on Icelandic fish would be “unacceptable” and that the United Kingdom should not do anything that imperils Icelandic imports. We recognise the importance of Icelandic seafood to England, are eager to negotiate a fair solution, and look forward to other countries joining us at the table to resolve the mackerel fishing issue.


Statement from Dr. Sigurgeir Thorgeirsson, Iceland chief negotiator on mackerel fishing:

Iceland is committed to negotiating a solution to the mackerel fishing issue between the Coastal States. We believe that the long-term sustainability of the mackerel stock must be the top priority, which means all mackerel fishing Coastal States – notably Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway and the EU, including Scotland and Ireland – should agree to reductions in the catch. Unfortunately, Iceland’s repeated attempts to reach a fair solution have been rejected, with the EU and Norway claiming 90 percent of the total advised catch, a vastly oversized level given the changing migration patterns of mackerel.

Climate change is causing significant shifts in water temperatures that are leading more mackerel to inhabit Icelandic waters. Scientists are concerned that mackerel overpopulation would cause lasting damage to our marine ecosystem, so we must find a careful balance between catching and preserving the stock.  As such, Iceland has proposed that all countries lower their 2013 mackerel catch to levels recommended by scientists at the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). This will ensure the Coastal States sustain the mackerel population and will protect the economic well-being of these countries fishing industries. Our reasonable proposals have fallen on deaf ears.

Iceland is a leader in sustainable fishing and has earned praise for its protection of fish stock. Overfishing serves no one, which is why we have demonstrated flexibility and openness throughout negotiations. We hope other parties will join us in pursuing a fair and science-based compromise.



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