Iceland minister: science is the key to mackerel dispute

Iceland fishAn Icelandic official is continuing to defend Reykjavik by saying that ‘science’ is the key to solving the ongoing North Atlantic mackerel dispute.

The comments came via an open letter from Steingrímur Sigfússon, the country’s minister of industries and innovation, who said that Europe and Norway are also to blame for the overfishing of the species. He added that Iceland’s repeated attempts to offer a scientific approach to the problem have been met with hostility.

Sigfússon wrote: “At present, each country sets a voluntary quota on the amount of mackerel it will catch. But because the quotas are self-imposed and there is no limit on the collective catch, mackerel is being overfished.”

He added, “That’s not good for anyone. Yet instead of looking for a solution that grants everyone a fair share, certain EU states are blaming Iceland, demanding that it alone reduce its catch. These states are even threatening EU-wide trade sanctions, such as blocking Icelandic ships from EU harbours and banning imports of products resulting from Iceland’s mackerel catch.”

The minister argues that although nearly 30 percent of the region’s mackerel migrate to Icelandic waters every year, the EU and Norway demand that Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Russia combined are only entitled to 10 percent.

Finally, he said, “To help protect both the ecosystem and our economies, we must carefully consider scientific data and recommendations from ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) to come to a mutually beneficial solution. Economic sanctions will not resolve this debate. For the wellbeing of our country and the North Atlantic, we must reach an agreement. We stand ready to play our part.”

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