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Iceland Lowers 2013 Mackerel Fishing Quota by 15 Percent in Line with Scientific Recommendations

2/2/2013

Reduction in Catch Level Will Help Assure

Sustainability of Mackerel Stock

 

Iceland Calls for Diplomatic Solution to Mackerel Issue


Reykjavik, Iceland – The Icelandic Ministry of Industries and Innovation today announced the country's 2013 fishing quota for mackerel, lowering the catch to 123,182 tons. This represents a 15 percent cut from the 2012 quota, in alignment with scientific recommendations from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), an international non-governmental organisation that promotes scientific research on the marine environment.

The 2013 quota is a reduction from Iceland's 2012 quota of 145,227 tons, as part of Iceland's commitment to ensure the long-term sustainability of the mackerel stock. It is the second year in a row that Iceland has lowered its catch quota, which was 154,825 tons in 2011.

“Iceland is taking fewer mackerel from the sea in 2013. The 15 percent reduction in the weight of our catch aligns with the recommendations from international scientific experts,” said Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, the Minister of Industries and Innovation. “Our 2013 mackerel quota continues our efforts to help preserve the mackerel stock, which is our top priority.”

Iceland also reiterated its commitment to reach a diplomatic resolution to the mackerel issue. The country has repeatedly proposed that the Coastal States (Iceland, the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands) collectively lower the catch, including recommending at the last negotiation session in October a universal 15 percent cut in 2013 and significant reductions in future years. Although these proposals were not accepted by the other Coastal States, Iceland expressed hope that the Coastal States will return to negotiations soon.

“We are willing to further reduce our catch if other Coastal States agree to do so as well. We need to work as partners to protect the mackerel stock, and Iceland is ready to take this important step so we can reach a reasonable agreement together,” said Sigfússon. “I hope the Coastal States will return to the negotiating table with us to discuss concrete proposals.”

Iceland's quota cut comes even as the mackerel stock has grown tremendously in Iceland's waters in recent years. Cooperative international studies indicated 1.1 million tons of mackerel were found in Iceland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in 2010 and 2011, and 1.5 million tons in 2012. This constituted an estimated 20-30 percent of the overall Northeast Atlantic mackerel population. The stock gained an estimated 50 percent of its weight while in Iceland's nutrient-rich waters.

“We need stronger scientific analysis of the mackerel population, following the recent changes in the stock's migratory patterns that have increased its numbers in Iceland's waters,” said Sigfússon. “We were disappointed that the EU and Norway again claimed 90 percent of ICES' recommended catch level of 542,000 tons, a far oversized portion of the catch given the changed migration pattern. We must use science to ensure all the Coastal States, including Iceland, receive a fair portion of the catch, as they are legally entitled to.”

As part of this call for greater scientific research, Sigfússon encouraged the EU to join the Marine Research Institutes of Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway in the Nordic trawler surveys of the mackerel population. In summer 2012, the international survey indicated the mackerel population's weight was 5.1 million tons, an increase from the 2010 estimate of 4.8 million tons. However, the data includes no information from the EU, which does not participate.

In 2012, Iceland's share of the actual mackerel catch by the Coastal States (Iceland, the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands) and Russia was approximately 16 percent, with the countries' combined actual 2012 catch estimated at approximately 920,000 tons, pending final reporting. The Faroe Islands and Russia have yet to announce their 2013 catch quotas, but Iceland's share is likely to remain approximately 16 percent, if other countries also lower their 2013 catch quotas by 15 percent.