Mackerel Dispute Gets Tougher For Iceland

21.1.2013
Words by Paul Fontaine
A unilateral decision made last week by the EU and Norway regarding its mackerel quota puts Iceland at a disadvantage, says Minister of Industries and Innovation Steingrímur J. Sigfússon.

The European Union and Norway came to an agreement last week to share 90% of the mackerel quota in European waters, or 490,000 tonnes per year, RÚV reports. This leaves the remaining 10% available to Iceland, Russia and the Faroe Islands.

"It is very disappointing that [the EU and Norway] would decide for themselves to take a 90% share of the recommended quota," Steingrímur told reporters. "It's clear to everyone that this leaves little room for Iceland, the Faroes and Russia. Inevitably, it locks things in their present situation, if not makes things worse."

Mackerel fishing has been a contentious subject between Iceland and the EU. While Iceland maintains a quota that they believe is sustainable, EU leaders have said Iceland is overfishing the stocks, and have repeatedly threatened to issue punitive measures if Iceland does not reverse its policy.

Last September, the EU parliament approved a measure that includes a number of sanctions against Iceland and the Faroe Islands, to be enforced at the discretion of the directorship of the EU. EU officials have emphasised, though, that the dispute will have no bearing on Iceland's accession into the EU.

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