EU To Move Forward With Mackerel Ban

17.1.2011
Words by Paul Nikolov
The European Union has indicated its intention to block any shipments of Icelandic mackerel, despite hopes that talks might have been able to avert the conflict.

The matter of contention is that Iceland unilaterally decided to raise its mackerel quota to exceed the established EU quota for 2011. This resulted in strong language from EU officials, including Struan Stevenson, one of the vice presidents of the European Parliament's fishing committee, who called the raising of the quota "smash-and-grab tactics".

The BBC now reports that the mackerel ban will move forward unless Iceland changes its position.

Tomas Heidar, chief negotiator for Iceland on mackerel fisheries, told the BBC Scotland news website that it was "imperative" to "reach an agreement on comprehensive management of the mackerel stock in order to ensure sustainable fishery". He maintained his position that Iceland's mackerel quota had been set too high, but was optimistic that an agreement would be reached.

UK Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead added, "I'm pleased that the European Commission has signalled its intent to take forward swift action against Iceland if required. I welcome Iceland's indication that they are willing to resume talks and hope that they will come back to the table as a matter of urgency."

As negotiations are expected to continue, the aforementioned Stevenson has maintained that Icelandic Minister of Fisheries Jón Bjarnason raised the mackerel quotas to deliberately goad the EU into taking action against Iceland - that Jón, being against joining the EU, was engaging in a "one-sided political trick".

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