European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki has sent a formal request to the managing director of the EEA Council for a meeting be held no later than January 14 to discuss a possible landing ban of mackerel caught in Iceland.
A fishing vessel in Iceland. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.
Damanaki’s spokesperson Oliver Drewes told Morgunbladid that with the request Damanaki is “sending a clear message to Iceland.”
A landing ban can be imposed according to the EEA agreement which states that landing of fish from a member country can be denied if serious dispute arises on how to control fisheries of that particular fish stock.
Drewes said the ban would only apply to unprocessed mackerel. Apparently, the EU doesn’t have the authority to ban the import of mackerel products.
Managing director of the Federation of Fishing Vessel Owners (LÍÚ) Fridrik J. Arngrímsson said this step taken by the EU shouldn’t come as a surprise.
All mackerel caught by Icelandic fishing vessels is caught in Icelandic waters, apart from a small catch in Faroese waters. The entire catch is unloaded in Iceland and the largest part of the catch is sold to countries outside the EU, he said.
The Ministry of Fisheries announced last week a 147,000 unilateral mackerel quota for Iceland in 2011, up from 130,000 tons in 2010.
According to a press release from LÍÚ, the decision was made in accordance with the proposal of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) that the total mackerel catch in 2011 should not exceed 646,000 tons.
Norway and the EU have already claimed over 90 percent of the proposed total catch and oppose Iceland’s mackerel decision.
Click here to read more about the mackerel dispute.