Iceland ‘mackerel war’ negotiations end in failure

This week’s Reykjavík mackerel fishing negotiations between Iceland and the Faroe Islands on one side and the EU and Norway on the other have ended without agreement and with the EU’s fishing chief blaming Icelandic and Faroese unwillingness to properly engage in negotiations.

Reuters reports that representatives have so far participated in five lots of negotiating sessions to try to end the so-called “mackerel war”, which started over two years ago when Iceland unilaterally hiked its mackerel quota from 2,000 to 130,000 tonnes. The Faroe Islanders have also increased their mackerel catch six times over in the last two years to reach 150,000 tonnes last year.

“It is particularly disappointing that neither Iceland nor the Faroe Islands really engaged in the negotiating process,” said the EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki from Reykjavík.

“The Union and Norway call on Iceland and the Faroe Islands to reduce their current unsustainable fishing levels,” she said. “We remain ready in the future to continue to seek a reasonable and fair quota sharing arrangement.”

Iceland and the Faroe Islands argue, however, that their large quota increases are purely a response to more migratory mackerel moving into their ever-warming coastal waters and that they are scientifically justified and sustainable.