Now that the sanctions proposal has been approved by the European Parliament, Scots fishermen are urging the European Commission to implement the measures as soon as possible. The next round of negotiations between the EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroes is due to resume next month and Scottish fishermen are keen that a clear signal is given that a fair and equitable deal must now be reached.
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.
Other sanction measures agreed include restrictions on the use of EU ports by vessels flying the flag of the country or territory deemed to be over-fishing, and restrictions on boats transporting fish and fishery products from the stock of common interest and associated species. There is also scope to further tighten the sanction measures if it is deemed that the initial measures are proving ineffective.
Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermens Association, said: We welcome todays vote by the European Parliament, although it is essential that the European Commission now moves quickly to implement the measures. As the biggest stakeholder in the EU mackerel fishery, UK and Scottish Ministers will have a vital role to play by putting pressure on the Commission to ensure it does enact the sanction measures as fast as possible.
This is the third straight year without an international agreement on mackerel, which means the sustainability of this valuable fishery is being jeopardised. Hopefully, todays vote will help ensure that Iceland and the Faroes recognise the seriousness of the situation and at long last they will return to the table to engage in meaningful negotiations.
This is a very important moment in this long running dispute and the Scottish fishing industry would in particular like to thank the crucial role played by Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP for helping broker this sanctions agreement.
Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: This is a welcome development and I hope it leads to the European Commission introducing meaningful and effective sanctions as soon as possible against states that fish unsustainably and outwith international agreements. However, past experience show that the wheels of progress turn very slowly in Europe, therefore we need the EU to demonstrate greater urgency.
Commissioner Damanakis talks with Iceland and Faroes last month were unsuccessful, indicating that they are likely to once again pursue excessive mackerel quotas next year. Such flagrant irresponsible behaviour cannot continue without consequences.
Thats why the EU must add bite to its bark, so that when the formal negotiations for a 2013 mackerel deal commence next month there is a greater incentive on the Faroes and Iceland to negotiate reasonably. We hope that a deal can be reached that will safeguard the fishery without the need for sanctions. However, if that cannot be achieved we need sanction measures available.
In February protracted negotiations failed to secure a four-way Coastal States deal for 2012, leading to a third straight year without agreement. New mackerel talks for 2013 are set to commence in October. In recent years Iceland and the Faroes have set themselves massively inflated autonomous mackerel quotas outwith any international management agreement with the EU and Norway.
Further ReadingYou can view the full Parliament decision by clicking here.