Faroese and Icelandic fishing vessels could be banned from EU waters if the “anarchic” situation created by their massive increases in mackerel quotas is not resolved, fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki warned today.
In an outspoken attack on the decisions by Faroe to set a quota of 85,000 for the fish in 2010 – three times that agreed under management arrangements with the EU and Norway during the last decade – and Iceland to take 130,000 tonnes, she said their behaviour risked causing the collapse of the north-east Atlantic mackerel stock.
The commissioner said the European Union would be sending a very clear message to Faroe in the coming days and would be seeking early consultations in order to put the management of the mackerel stock back on a sustainable basis.
However, should the “current anarchic situation in the mackerel fisheries continue with unreasonable positions being maintained by parties”, the commission will “contemplate all necessary measures to conserve the mackerel stock and safeguard EU interests”.
“We will put all our efforts into ending this untenable situation by trying to come to an agreement with all states fishing on the north eastern mackerel stock. Should our efforts however not be fruitful I cannot guarantee that we will continue to exchange fishing possibilities with the Faroe Islands and Iceland in 2011,” she said.
The EU particularly regretted Faroe’s unilateral action because it ran contrary to the positive contribution the islands had made with the EU in rebuilding the mackerel stock. During discussions in July Faroe had indicated support for EU efforts to manage the stock in a sustainable manner.
Mackerel is vital to the Shetland pelagic fleet, accounting for around 90 per cent of its earnings.