Ireland’s fishing industry is calling on the EU to implement sanctions against Iceland and the Faroe Islands following the breakdown of bilateral talks in Iceland.
Federation of Irish Fishermen chairman Sean O’Donoghue said MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher is pushing for immediate EU sanctions to protect mackerel stocks from massive over-fishing.
Mr O’Donoghue said: “We are deeply disappointed by the way the Faroes and Iceland have been so unreasonable in demanding such a huge share of the available stocks.
“We want the EU to up the ante and impose sanctions immediately. The implications may not be so evident in 2012, but we are looking at the long-term health of the stock,” he said.
“The Faroes and Iceland are catching enormous volumes of mackerel, anything from 30,000 tons to 300,000 tons annually, and that will have a huge effect on the stock going forward.”
Marine Minister Simon Coveney also expressed his disappointment at the breakdown of the talks on managing the €1bn annual mackerel fishery, featuring the EU’s coastal states, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
Mr Coveney said: “It is extremely regrettable that after five rounds of consultations on arrangements for 2012, and four years of irresponsible fishing by Iceland and the Faroe Islands, neither Iceland nor the Faroe Islands showed any flexibility or real intent to compromise.
“Mackerel is Ireland’s single most important fishery and Irish coastal communities have been traditionally dependant on this fishery for many decades. Iceland has no traditional dependence on this stock.”
Over the course of the five rounds, the EU and Norway tabled three different proposals, culminating in an offer of 7% for Iceland and 8% for the Faroe Islands, with significant access to fish some of this quota in EU and Norwegian waters.
This offer involves increases from the current share of 0.3% for Iceland and 3.5% for the Faroe Islands.
Mr Coveney said: “Demands of 15% by Iceland and the Faroes are completely unjustifiable. Their proposal at these negotiations, to set shares for 2012 based on last year’s fishing activity, would reward both Iceland and the Faroes for their uncontrolled and irresponsible fishing in 2011. “This demonstrates clearly their lack of serious intent to find a fair and equitable resolution for the management of the stock.”
The minister noted that Iceland has only entered this fishery since 2008 and yet is taking over 23% of the scientifically recommended fishing limit, while the Faroes have increased their catching levels six-fold in two years. This is compared with Ireland, the second largest EU member state in this fishery, whose share of the recommended TAC is around 10.5%.
The minister said: “It is completely unacceptable that a candidate country for EU accession would behave in this manner, gravely endangering jobs and livelihoods in a neighbouring EU state.”
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