The European fishing delegation, comprising of representatives from Scotland, Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands, expressed grave concern on the standstill in the coastal states negotiations and asked the Commissioner to implement quick and effective sanction measures in accordance with the very strong mandate given to her by both the European Parliament and Council against Iceland and the Faroe Islands with the aim to restore the sustainable management of the two stocks.
The meeting was set up to discuss the current situation of the management of pelagic stocks where Iceland has set an autonomous mackerel quota for 2013 of 123,000 ton or 22.7 per cent of the science based 2013 TAC (total allowable catch)and where the Faroe Islands has set yesterday an autonomous mackerel quota of 159,000 ton or 29.3 per cent of the 2013 TAC. This means that in 2013, both countries will catch 52 per cent of the 2013 TAC, where as recently as 2006 their joint share in the mackerel catches was just over 5 per cent .
Also yesterday the Faroe Islands decided to set an autonomous quota for Atlanto Scandian herring after stepping out of the five party management agreement (Norway, EU, Iceland, Faroe, Russia) for this stock in January this year. The autonomously set herring quota by Faroe Islands amounts to 105,000 ton - more than three times their share in accordance with the management plan.
Norwegian Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Minister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen and EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki have issued a joint statement on the Faroe Islands unilateral quota for herring and mackerel.
"We regret the announcement made by the Faroe Islands of their fishing quotas for Atlanto-Scandian herring and mackerel. We continue to be deeply concerned about the excessive and unsustainable level of Faroese fishing.
"On mackerel, the Faroe Islands have announced that they will take as much as 23 per cent of the scientifically recommended quota for themselves.
"They have also announced that they will add to this their unused quota from 2012. This may result in an increase in fishing. On herring, the Faroe Islands have now unilaterally more than tripled their quota. This unilateral move risks affecting seriously the health and sustainability of that important fish stock.
"We are deeply concerned that by taking yet another unilateral step and by leaving the community of coastal states on a second North Atlantic fish stock, the Faroe Islands have embarked on dismembering the joint management of our shared resources. We call on the Faroe Islands to reverse those steps immediately," concluded the Ministers.
Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We told the Commissioner that the unsustainable fishing practices of Iceland and the Faroes must not be allowed to continue any longer and that there must be the immediate implementation of trade sanctions that will hopefully provide the catalyst for reaching an agreement. The onus is currently on both Iceland and the Faroes to return to the negotiating table, but so far neither country has shown any inclination to do so.”