The British mackerel industry has said it is pleased Iceland has decided to restart negotiations with Norway and the EU over mackerel quotas.
Iceland’s Fisheries Minister Sigurður Jóhansson announced the news his country was prepared to discuss quotas again following a lengthy dispute with other nations about the size of the North Atlantic nation’s catch.
However, the Scottish Pelagic Processors Association SPPA Chairman Ian McFadden wrote to Johannsson to challenge several of the Icelandic government’s arguments regarding mackerel population, migration and feeding habits.
He said that a number of the claims are not in agreement with internationally recognised scientific data, while some even contradict information previously provided by an Icelandic government scientist who is an expert in mackerel stocks.
The letter went on to state that while they welcome the Icelandic government’s decision to return to the negotiating table, they are concerned about its inability to support the claims it has made about mackerel stock.
It noted that for talks to advance further, it would be helpful if claims made about mackerel migration, stock and feeding habits in particular could be backed up as, at present, they are using statistics without clear reference points and that have not been passed on for peer review.
McFadden said that if the countries concerned can use a science-based solution to come to an agreement then it must be data held by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) on mackerel stock and distribution. He added that they would be happy to sit down with Sigurður Jóhansson and discuss how mackerel has been fished and processed during the past 30 years, and use ICES data to come up with a science-based solution.