ICELAND - The Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture has set Iceland's 2014 mackerel quota at a responsible 147,574 tons. The announcement was welcomed by the EU who urges Iceland to join with the other parties to now work out a full four-party coastal state arrangement.
This represents a 16.6 per cent share of the total mackerel catch recommended by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) – or just 11.9 per cent of the 1,240,000 tonnes recently decided by the EU, Norway and the Faroes.
This decision is in line with Iceland's commitment to the long-term sustainability of the mackerel stock based on scientific evidence. “Our 2014 mackerel quota supports Iceland's efforts to preserve the mackerel stock, which should be the long term management goal,” said Mr Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, Minster of Fisheries and Agriculture.
Iceland also reiterated its disappointment at the recently signed five-year tripartite agreement on mackerel fisheries and the fact that it is not a full Coastal State agreement. “We were willing to negotiate our share as a part of a full coastal state agreement. We need to continue to work as partners, first and foremost to secure the sustainable utilisation of the mackerel stock with longterm interests in mind. Iceland is, as always, ready to participate in a balanced arrangement based on scientific evidence,” added Minister Johannsson.
The mackerel stock has grown considerably in Iceland's waters in recent years. International studies estimate that 20-30 per cent of the overall Northeast Atlantic mackerel stock is found in Iceland‘s EEZ during its feeding season. The stock gains an estimated 50 per cent of its weight while in Iceland's nutrient-rich waters.
In recent years Iceland's share of the total mackerel catch by the Coastal States (Iceland, the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands) and Russia and Greenland has been approximately 16-17 per cent. The other three Coastal States have agreed between themselves significantly higher quotas in 2014 amounting to 1,240,000 tonnes – significantly higher than the 890,000 advised by ICES. The quota announced by Iceland will be equivalent to just 11.9 per cent of the tripartite agreement or as stated above 16.6 per cent of the ICES advice.
Commenting on the annoucement, EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki's Spokesperson, Helene Banner, stated: "Iceland's announcement of its unilateral mackerel quota is a positive step. It conforms to the share figure it had previously claimed in the Coastal State mackerel negotiations, namely, 11.9 per cent of 1,240,000 tonnes.
"The EU has said from the outset that the door is open for Iceland to join the arrangement, and we could now be very close to reaching a deal which includes all four Coastal States: the European Union, the Faroe Islands, Norway and Iceland. We therefore urge Iceland to join the other three Parties at the negotiating table at the earliest opportunity so that we can work out the terms of a full four-Party Coastal State arrangement for mackerel."
TheFishSite News Desk