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Team Appointed to Negotiate Mackerel Stocks

ICELAND - The Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture has appointed Sigurgeir orgeirsson, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, to head Iceland's team of negotiators on the division of harvest rights to the mackerel stock.

In addition to Iceland, the other coastal states Norway, the Faroes and the EU will meet at the negotiating table, together with Russia, which catches mackerel on the high seas.

The negotiating team will include representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture and the vessel operators, who will in additino be advised by experts from the Marine Research Institute. The team is also authorised to seek additional specialist assistance as needed.

The appointment of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture to lead the negotiating team and direct its efforts underlines the importance given to this issue on Iceland's part. Iceland has for many years sought to be included in discussions on the division of the harvest rights to the mackerel stock but, until 2010, was refused admission to the negotiating table, despite its legitimate demand for recognition as a coastal state whose waters mackerel traverse.

Unfortunately, the negotiations on quotas have not yet met with much success, but Iceland underlines its determination to reach an agreement, provided its legitimate and major interests as a coastal state are given due and fair consideration.

A very substantial portion of the annual mackerel runs are within the Icelandic EEZ. Large quantities of feed are consumed by the mackerel from the biosphere in Icelandic waters during its stay of several months, and there is now reliable evidence available that mackerel are both spawning and maturing in Icelandic jurisdiction. All of this makes a strong case for Iceland at the negotiating table.

Charlotte Johnson

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