As the EU passed sanctions against the Faroe Islands on its herring trade yesterday, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Össur Skarphéðinsson told mbl that he would defend Iceland’s hard stance in the related Mackerel Dispute.
Yesterday, the European fisheries council outlined a scheme that would impose sanctions against the Faroe Islands on Atlanto-Scandian herring. According to Shetland News, the EU sanctions could prevent the import of Faroese herring into the EU and prevent Faroese herring vessels from landing in the EU area.
While the sanctions do not yet directly affect Iceland, European and Norwegian fishing lobbyists are demanding that the EU extend the sanctions to both mackerel and Iceland. Chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association believes the sanctions should extend to mackerel because the two species are often caught together in what he says is “essentially a mixed fishery.”
Since the stock started moving north at the end of the last decade, Iceland has also been accused of overfishing herring and mackerel. However, successive attempts at multi-lateral quota negotiations have broken down.
Meanwhile Iceland defends its right to the increased catch. Last January, Iceland opposed the unilateral decision between Norway and the EU which allotted 90% of the mackerel quota to themselves, leaving the remaining 10% to be divided among Russia, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
Össur told mbl this morning that if the EU resorts to economic sanctions against Iceland which violate terms of the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement then such sanctions would be in breach of rules set forth by the World Trade Organization and that Iceland would seek to reverse them through legal means.
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