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Agreement on Sanctions Against Iceland and the Faroes

Sustainability Politics

EU - Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP, the rapporteur for the report has confirmed that the European Parliament has concluded negotiations with the Danish Presidency and that a comprehensive agreement is now in place to introduce sanctions against countries engaged in unsustainable fishing practices.

Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP said: "I am pleased that the talks between the European Parliament and the Danish Presidency have ended with agreement. I strongly believe that the agreed text will deliver both workable and effective trade sanctions, which will act as a real deterrent to countries who engage in unsustainable fishing practices now and in the future."

"The mackerel dispute in the North East Atlantic is the moving force behind these new measures. However, I am still hopeful that the measures may never be used against Iceland and the Faroe Islands and I once again call on all four Coastal States to immediately resume talks with a view to resolving this long running dispute."

Mr Gallagher MEP paid tribute to all involved in the "trialogue" negotiations, which included representatives of the European Commission, the Council of Ministers and Members of the Fisheries Committee in the European Parliament (Shadow Rapporteurs). Mr. Gallagher thanked them for their close cooperation in concluding the agreement.

Mr Gallagher further stated "The agreement also highlights that 'co-decision' between the European Parliament and the Council on fisheries policy does work, which is a positive sign ahead of the negotiations later this year on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy."

The agreement includes the following trade measures, which can be imposed on a country or territory fishing in an unsustainable manner:

  • Quantitative restrictions on the importations of fish into the EU including the stock of common interest and associated species;
  • The definition of associated species is broadly defined to cover a range of species other than mackerel for example and is based on FAO rules;
  • Further measures can be applied under the scope of the Regulation, if the initial measures prove to be ineffective;
  • Restrictions on the use of EU ports by vessels flying the flag of the country or territory deemed to be overfishing;
  • Restrictions on the use of EU ports by vessels transporting fish and fishery products from the stock of common interest and associated species;
  • Ban on the sale of fishing vessels, fishing equipment and supplies to the country or territory deemed to be overfishing;
  • Ban on reflagging of fishing vessels from an EU Member State to a country or territory deemed to be overfishing.

Scottish fishermen have welcomed the news of the agreement for a comprehensive sanctions package against countries and territories engaged in unsustainable fishing practices.

They say the agreement now paves the way for the implementation of trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes in response to the massive autonomous quotas they have set for mackerel that are not part of any responsible international fisheries management arrangements.

The broad ranging sanction measures agreed means the EU is now in the position to apply "quantitative restrictions" on the imports into the EU of Icelandic or Faroese caught mackerel, which would also have the scope to cover other fish species associated with the fishery. There is a broad definition to these 'associated species', so in effect it could cover a wide range of fishery products.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association, said: "We have been calling for these sanction measures for a long time and we are delighted at this sanctions package. The two most important elements are for the sanction measures to be meaningful, which is clearly the case here, and the second is the timing of implementation so as to ensure that these measures are in place prior to the commencement of the October negotiations.

"Hopefully these measures will make Iceland and the Faroes realise that their unsustainable fishing practices will not be tolerated by the responsible international fisheries community. It is vital that both these countries now come back to the negotiating table and reach a sensible international management arrangement for the precious mackerel stock that will ensure a sustainable future for the fishery.

"The Scottish fishing industry would in particular like to thank the important role played by Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP for helping broker this sanctions agreement."

Iceland has unilaterally increased its mackerel catch from only 363 tonnes in 2005 to 147,000 tonnes in 2012. The Faroese autonomous quota has soared from 27,830 tonnes in 2009 to 149,000 tonnes in 2012.