Ireland and Scotland urge EU to intervene in Mackerel Row

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Ireland and Scotland urge EU to intervene in Mackerel Row

Iceland and the Faroe Islands accused of breaking agreement on mackerel quota.

Iceland and the Faroe Islands accused of breaking agreement on mackerel quota.

The dispute began in August 2010 after Iceland unilaterally decided to take 130,000 tonnes of mackerel, which is 25 times what they fished four years ago, and the Faroe Islands decided to take 85,000 tonnes, which is three times their regular quota.

A number of European nations, Ireland and Scotland amongst them, are concerned that Iceland’s actions will affect mackerel stocks as well as international agreements on other fish species.

Mackerel is Ireland and Scotland's most important fishery and provides employment for thousands of people at sea and in land-based processing plants.

Ireland’s mackerel quota, about 62,000 tonnes, is estimated to be worth €60 million directly to fishermen and €120m to the 12 Irish fish processing factories that process mackerel.

The Irish and Scottish governments urged the European Union to step up pressure on Iceland and the Faroe Islands regarding their increased catches in the North East Atlantic.

Irish Fisheries Minister Seán Connick warned Iceland could face sanctions by the EU if an acceptable agreement is not reached.

Speaking after EU fisheries ministers met in Brussels on September 27th, Mr Connick told: "This will have a big impact. It’s out of control and is not sustainable. In a year or two we will have a major problem with the stocks".

"I want to see a fair deal to resolve this issue and secure the future for our fishermen and fish factories. However, I made it clear that I will not accept a deal at any price", said the Irish Fisheries Minister.

In Scotland, a Faroese trawler was blockaded by local fishermen at the port of Peterhead as it tried to land its £400,000 catch.

Scottish Government's Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said mackerel stocks were "being put at risk by the irresponsible actions of Iceland and the Faroes."

"Scotland is at the fore of promoting responsible, sustainable fishing practices therefore these unacceptable actions are deeply frustrating for Scottish fishermen”, told Mr Lochhead.

Mackerel is one of the most sustainable European fisheries thanks to the action that EU member states have taken over the past years.

However, Iceland and the Faroe Islands maintain the fish has gravitated north in recent years and they are only fishing within their own zones.

Negotiations between the EU and Iceland and the Faroe Islands are expected to be held over the coming months.


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