Minister of Industries and Innovation Steingrímur J. Sigfússon announced a mackerel fishing quota of 123,182 tons for the next season yesterday. The quota is 15 percent smaller than last year’s in accordance with ICES guidelines.
The estimated total mackerel catch by the European Union, Norway, Iceland, Faroe Islands and Russia was 920,000 tons in 2012.
Iceland claimed a 16 percent share of the catch in opposition with the EU and Norway and this year’s catch looks to be a similar ratio, ruv.is reports.
Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, commented to Herald Scotland that the decision is disappointing, accusing Iceland of over-fishing.
“This will continue to damage our most valuable stock and an opportunity has been missed to show willingness to help bring this dispute to end. It is now clear that further steps have to be taken to manage this stock in a sustainable manner,” Lochhead stated.
“I believe that the best way this can be achieved is by the appointment of an independent mediator who can facilitate co-operation in an objective and neutral manner. I am also calling on the EU … to deliver on promised action,” he added.
Steingrímur dismissed Lochhead’s criticism as propaganda, stating Scottish officials have become annoyed because Iceland’s cause is receiving increased support.
The minister reasoned in an interview with RÚV that his quota decision is a natural reaction to the EU’s and Norway’s unilateral issuing of quotas comprising 90 percent of the catch for themselves.
Steingrímur admitted that the dispute is unfortunate but claimed the blame lies just as much with Norway and the EU as Iceland.
He added it is necessary to reevaluate the mackerel stock and whether increased collaboration on surveillance is needed.
The EU will study the stock size next summer and determine whether it is correct that 1-1.5 million tons of mackerel exist in Icelandic waters, the minister concluded.
Click here to read more about the mackerel dispute.