Iceland: Mackerel deal will affect stocks

Iceland: Mackerel deal will affect stocks

Icelandic fishing and environmental groups have claimed Norway and the EU have agreed a deal that could have a negative impact on the mackerel stock in the Northeast Atlantic.

Iceland and the Faroe Island have been engulfed in a four-year battle with the EU and Norway over the North Atlantic countries’ refusal to comply with mackerel quotas; with Iceland giving itself a unilateral quota of 145,000 tonnes and the Faroese 150,000 tonnes.

Both nations faced the possibility of sanctions after being accused of threatening the stability of mackerel stocks in the region; however, Iceland now say it is the reverse that is the case.

Two weeks ago Norway and the EU reached an agreement with the Faroese to give them a total catch quota of 156,240 tonnes for 2014 – 6,000 tonnes more than they allocated themselves 15 months ago. Since the deal has been agreed, Iceland has been urged to end its stance and reach a deal too.

However, Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners Federation chairman Kolbeinn Árnason has claimed Iceland should refrain from agreeing a deal that could be “unsustainable” and ultimately end in “over-exploitation”. He questioned how the EU could reach a five-year agreement that puts quotas 18 per cent above what the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) advises, particularly when taking previous statements the bloc made into account.

The ICES recommends that the total catch over the five-year period should be 890,000, but the new deal takes that figure to 1,470,000 tonnes. Kolbeinn is of the opinion this could seriously harm the fishery, and insists any international agreements should be based on sustainable fishing.

The Iceland Environment and Natural Resources Committee agreed with Kolbeinn, saying that the agreement would lead to a level of fishing that was “far from sustainable”.