The European Union has reached a deal on mackerel fishing rights in the northeast Atlantic with the Faroe Islands and Norway, Reuters reports.
“This agreement ensures the long-term sustainability of this valuable stock. The door is still open for Iceland to join the other parties in the near future,” European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, said in a statement.
The deal has angered the Icelandic government with Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson expressing surprise that the deal had gone ahead without Iceland’s involvement.
Irish MEP Pat The Cope Gallagher was highly critical of Damanaki, arguing that her handling of the affairs has been “disappointing.” “I have no doubt that if she had imposed sanctions last year then we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in today, with Iceland refusing to cooperate with other coastal states.”
An ongoing dispute led to an EU ban on imports of mackerel and herring from the Faroe Islands last year. According to the EU Commission, the Faroe Islands had set itself a quota that was more than three times the previously agreed share of the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock.
The agreement, which will run until 2018, established a commitment on sustainable fisheries and a commitment to launch a new long-term management plan for mackerel fishing.
An agreement with Norway on shared stocks in the North Sea was also reached allowing a five percent increase in total allowable catches (TACs) for North Sea cod and a 15 percent rise for North Sea plaice compared to 2013. The TACs for North Sea haddock, saithe and whiting have been reduced by 15 percent and the herring TAC in the same area was reduced by 2 percent.
The Faroe Islands will receive 12.6 percent of the total allowable mackerel catch, with the EU and Norway sharing 71.8 percent. A further 15.6 percent has been set aside for Icelandic and Russian catches, bbc.com reports.
According to the new agreement, the EU quota for mackerel fishing in 2014 amounts to 611,205 tonnes.