Iceland faces fishing sanctions over ‘mackerel wars’

Europe’s Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, is looking to enforce fishing sanctions against Iceland after talks, to set mackerel catch levels for 2011, in Copenhagen broke down last week. 

According to the BBC, Damanaki is trying to enforce changes that could result in an import ban on fish from countries acting outside international fishery agreements.

In an interview with BBC Scotland, Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said Damanaki had indicated that she was going to restrict landings of Icelandic mackerel in the European Union.

Damanaki’s actions come after Iceland and the Faroes one sidely set quotas for 2011 mackerel catch levels in their own waters and talks in Copenhagen ended with the Faroese refusing to sign a deal. However, Iceland recently denied that it walked away from talks.

Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Fisheries Secretary commented, “We were extremely frustrated by last week’s breakdown in mackerel talks. I am pleased that Commissioner Damanaki has confirmed she will endeavour to take strong action and put in place the necessary tools to apply meaningful sanctions. We cannot reward reckless behaviour.”

Additionally, Scottish Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson said, “Right at the start of this dispute I called for tough sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes, including a blockade at EU ports. I had hoped we could resolve this disagreement by negotiation, but it seems Iceland and the Faroes simply don’t want to be reasonable. Commissioner Damanaki is absolutely right to be considering firm action. Iceland and the Faroes cannot simply get away with endangering a migratory fish stock shared by many nations.”

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