EU reaches deal on mackerel with Norway, Faroe Islands

by Reuters
Thursday, 13 March 2014 15:02 GMT

* New management plan for NE Atlantic mackerel fishing seen

* Door open for Iceland to join

* Iceland says deal also does not include Greenland, Russia (Adds comment from Iceland, more background)

By Nina Chestney

LONDON, March 13 (Reuters) - The European Union has reached a deal on mackerel fishing rights in the northeast Atlantic with the Faroe Islands and Norway, ending a dispute that led the EU to ban imports from the Faroe Islands last year, the EU Commission said.

The agreement was brokered in London and will run until 2018. It established a commitment on sustainable fisheries and a commitment to launch a new long-term management plan for mackerel fishing this year.

"The talks were long and intensive, and given the potential risk to the stock, the stakes could not have been much higher," European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki said in a statement late on Wednesday.

"This agreement ensures the long-term sustainability of this valuable stock. The door is still open for Iceland to join the other parties in the near future," she said.

Iceland's Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture said it had participated in negotiations on an agreement last week but accused the EU of moving closer to the demands of Norway in the later phase of talks.

"The agreement does not include the fishing of Iceland, Greenland and Russia, and it is obvious that the total catch could exceed 50 percent above (scientific) advice," Sigurdur Johannsson said in a statement on Thursday.

Last year, EU authorities banned imports of herring and mackerel from the Faroe Islands and said they would prevent some Faroese boats from docking in EU ports.

EU officials said the Faroese sanctions were a first step and that similar measures could be used against Iceland in a long-running dispute about how much mackerel should be caught.

The Commission said the Faroe Islands had awarded itself a quota that more than trebled its previously agreed share of the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock.

The Faroe Islands is a self-governed territory within the Danish Realm but not part of the European Union.

Until last year, the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock was managed jointly by Norway, Russia, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and the European Union.

The EU Commission said it had also reached an agreement with Norway on shared fish stocks in the North Sea.

The deal established a 5 percent increase in total allowable catches for North Sea cod and a 15 percent rise for North Sea plaice compared with 2013.

However, the allowable catches for North Sea haddock, saithe and whiting have been reduced by 15 percent and for herring in the same area by 2 percent.

Following both agreements on Wednesday, the EU quota for mackerel fishing in 2014 amounts to 611,205 tonnes. (Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Jane Baird)

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