Mackerel trade war to halt overfishing edges closer
April 27 2012 Lewis Smith
Trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroe Islands for unilaterally declaring unsustainable mackeral quotas have come a step closer after a European rule change won vital support.
Members of the European Parliament fisheries committee voted through proposals to grant the European Commission the right to impose trade sanctions.
The proposal will go to the European Parliament later this year for ratification and is expected to be in force in time to influence talks scheduled for the autumn between the EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroes.
The rule change is intended to allow the Commission to act against any non-EU nations seen to be promoting unsustainable fishing practices in waters where Europe has an interest and has been prompted by the row over mackerel.
Iceland and the Faroes have each declared mackerel quotas for themselves of more than 145,000 tonnes each for 2012, far in excess of their traditional catches.
Scientists have warned that such levels, unless the EU and Norway agrees to substantially reduce their catches, are unsustainable. Seven fisheries have already had their prized Marine Stewardship Council certifications suspended because mackerel is no longer being fished sustainably.
Maria Damanaki, Europe’s fisheries commissioner, said: “We expect Iceland and the Faroe Islands to come back to the negotiating table in a responsible manner and to fully respect the sustainability of the mackerel stock. If there is no agreement soon, this trade instrument will be put into effect.”
The EU is considering a range of sanctions, including preventing any fish from Iceland or the Faroes being exported to Europe.
The fisheries committee voted unanimously for the measure and were praised by the Scottish fishing industry which is anxious to protect its stake in the annual mackerel catch. With a value of £163 million in 2011, mackerel is Scotland’s most valuable catch.
UK politicians and fishermen have been pressing for trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes to be imposed but until the new law is passed the Commission does not have the legal right to impose them.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, was among those to welcome the move and said: “Both countries must be brought to task for their unsustainable fishing practices and made to realise that such actions will not be tolerated by the responsible international fisheries community.”
Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “It is vital that every effort is taken to ensure the health of our precious mackerel stock and all European Governments must now throw their full support behind these proposals so as to ensure that the EU introduces these sanction measures as a matter of urgency.”
Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s fisheries secretary, added: “We cannot allow this shocking situation to continue for another fishing season and we're determined to work closely with the Commission and the European Parliament to resolve this matter.”
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1 Responses to "Mackerel trade war to halt overfishing edges closer"
Am I on crazy pills? Scottish and EU fishermen are sustainable? Iceland and the Faroes are the bad guys? It should be the opposite. How sustainable are those EU fleets without their fuel subsidies? Poor EU, its not getting its customary king's share.
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