Talks in London aiming to secure a 2013 Coastal States mackerel agreement have failed to bring about a new international agreement.
Following the repeated failure in recent years of annual negotiations between the EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands to achieve an international mackerel fishing deal, negotiations for a 2013 deal took place this week, with the aim of finally putting in place a four-party agreement. A senior Scottish Government official was part of the EU delegation.
Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
“We need an international deal that will see the mackerel stock sustainably fished – something that has regrettably not been the case over the past four years, with the Faroes and Iceland pursuing their own irresponsible quotas. It’s disappointing that these talks have failed to achieve a deal, which is clearly in the interests of all parties who share the fishery.
“The stubborn and unrealistic position of the Faroe Islands in particular, who continue to put forward highly excessive claims, is a concern. Indeed, the Faroese self-declared mackerel catch this year was five times their internationally agreed quota in 2009 – so large in fact that their fleet couldn’t catch it all and the Faroese invited in huge Russian vessels to fish mackerel in their waters.
“The ball is now firmly in their court and – if talks are to resume – both the Faroes and Iceland must come back to the table with a reasonable negotiating position.
“While our priority remains securing a four-party agreement, the EU has finally brought forward long-awaited sanction proposals. I hope the prospect of punitive action will re-focus Faroese and Icelandic minds.”
A vote in the European Parliament in September progressed plans to make sanction measures available to the EU, for use against states that pursue unsustainable fishing practices outwith international agreements.
Until 2009, the Faroes were part of a three-way agreement with the EU and Norway. In 2012 the Faroese declared themselves a quota more than five times their agreed share in 2009. Iceland, who caught very little mackerel prior to 2008, have never been part of a Coastal States agreement and have significantly increased their mackerel catch in recent years.
Advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas published last month stated that mackerel quota in 2013 should fall, as a direct result of the excessive fishing by Iceland and Faroes that has pushed catches well above the recommended limits.