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Icelandic Minister Calls for Cooperation on Mackerel Debate

16 May 2013

ICELAND - The Icelandic Minister of Industries and Innovation believes that the the application of economic sanctions by the EU over the continuing North East Atlantic mackerel dispute will not help solve the problem. Instead, it is likely to make reaching an agreement harder.

Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, Minister of Industries and Innovation, commented: “With the European Fisheries Council meeting in Brussels to discuss mackerel catch levels, Iceland continues to ask the Coastal States to return to the negotiating table to reach a fair solution to this dispute.

"Mackerel is a precious resource for Iceland and our fellow Coastal States, including the European Union, Norway and the Faroe Islands. We must work together to protect the mackerel stock through sustainable fishing levels based on collaborative scientific research.

"The EU and Norway have claimed 90 per cent of the recommended 2013 catch level, leaving only 10 per cent for Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Russia combined. We worry that this decision was made unilaterally despite research showing that up to 30 per cent of the mackerel stock was in Iceland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in 2012.

"In addition, mackerel gain approximately 50 per cent of their weight in Iceland’s territory, feeding in our nutrient-rich waters. We believe a diplomatic solution can be reached, but it has to respect scientific evidence and be fair to all countries, not just the biggest ones. Applying economic sanctions will not contribute to a long-term solution but on the contrary make the mackerel issue more difficult to resolve.

"In 2013, Iceland cut its 2013 mackerel catch by 15 per cent to help sustain the long-term health of the stock. We are willing to cut further, if other countries do as well. Iceland’s government and fishing industry are eager to find a solution as soon as possible, provided other Coastal States also will negotiate in good faith,” Mr Sigfússon said.

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