As Chair, the EU tabled a compromise proposal that was accepted by Iceland and the Faroe Islands but was rejected by Norway. The Commission considers that conditions were ideal for a deal to be reached and positions were very close. It is very disappointed that a golden opportunity has been lost.
The EU will now work with Norway in the bilateral negotiations to set fishing opportunities at a level that ensures the sustainable exploitation of this valuable stock, respecting the scientific advice.
In light of the degree of agreement reached during the coastal state negotiations, the EU calls on Iceland and the Faroe Islands to also show responsibility in the level of fishing opportunities they will now set unilaterally, to secure the future sustainability of the stock.
Scottish fishermen have expressed their extreme disappointment that the meeting failed to reach an agreement.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said: “The absence of an agreement after four years is a real disappointment. The remaining important catching opportunity negotiations between the EU and Norway are now that much more difficult and where there are still big priorities for Scottish fishing to be met, such as North Sea haddock, cod, saithe and herring. The breakdown in the mackerel talks also means there will be no access into Faroese waters for Scottish boats.”
It is also thought that the main parties (EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands) were moving towards an agreement, but a recent move by Greenland to set itself an autonomous quota for mackerel this year, has resulted in the talks becoming stalled.
Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We are very disappointed by this latest development, which has thrown a new dimension into the dispute. However, it is important that the complex issue of the new Greenland autonomous quota, and what it means for the other coastal states, is resolved in a satisfactory way.”