RESPONSE TO EUROPEAN FISH COUNCIL MEETING, 14 MAY 2013 - Statement from Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, Minister of Industries and Innovation
With the European Fisheries Council meeting in Brussels today to discuss mackerel catch levels, Iceland continues to ask the Coastal States to return to the negotiating table to reach a fair solution to this dispute. Mackerel is a precious resource for Iceland and our fellow Coastal States, including the European Union, Norway and the Faroe Islands. We must work together to protect the mackerel stock through sustainable fishing levels based on collaborative scientific research.
The EU and Norway have claimed 90 percent of the recommended 2013 catch level, leaving only 10 percent for Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Russia combined. We worry that this decision was made unilaterally despite research showing that up to 30 percent of the mackerel stock was in Iceland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in 2012. In addition, mackerel gain approximately 50 percent of their weight in Iceland's territory, feeding in our nutrient-rich waters. We believe a diplomatic solution can be reached, but it has to respect scientific evidence and be fair to all countries, not just the biggest ones. Applying economic sanctions will not contribute to a long-term solution but on the contrary make the mackerel issue more difficult to resolve.
In 2013, Iceland has cut its 2013 mackerel catch by 15 percent to help sustain the long-term health of the stock. We are willing to cut further, if other countries do as well. Iceland's government and fishing industry are eager to find a solution as soon as possible, provided other Coastal States also will negotiate in good faith.