The European Union is set to open sanction proceedings against Iceland as their latest move in the so-called “mackerel wars,” that have seen the Icelandic government at odds with the bloc over fishing quotas.
The Icelandic government is arguing that the quota set for mackerel fishing is both sustainable and is of the utmost importance to the national economy, The Independent reports. However, the EU has repeatedly expressed concern for fish stocks.
An unnamed official close to the talks being held by the EU Fisheries Commission has said “internally the procedure against Iceland has been launched,” when commenting on sanctions, which have been given a deadline for the end of July. Sanctions could mean the EU banning Icelandic mackerel from its ports. Iceland will be notified of the EU’s decision and will be given a chance to plead their case before any sanctions are approved.
In February, in response to EU concerns over Iceland’s mackerel quota, Iceland decreased its 2013 quota by 15%, to a total projected catch of 123,182 tonnes. Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, then minister or industries and innovations, wrote in a statement at that time ““Iceland is taking fewer mackerel from the sea in 2013. The 15 percent reduction in the weight of our catch aligns with the recommendations from international scientific experts. Our 2013 mackerel quota continues our efforts to help preserve the mackerel stock, which is our top priority.”
This did little to dissuade the EU’s displeasure with Iceland’s mackerel quota, calling Iceland’s unilaterally granted quota ‘regretful.’
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