Statement from Government of Iceland Regarding Recommended 2014 Mackerel Catch Levels
Last Thursday the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), the independent scientific organisation which provides guidance on sustainable fishing levels, has issued its recommended 2014 Northeast Atlantic mackerel catch level. The 2014 total catch limit is set at 889,886 tonnes, a 64 percent increase from the 2013 total. ICES also noted that recent data indicates the stock has expanded north-westwards, particularly during the summer feeding period, resulting in substantial catches made in Iceland's waters, while almost no catches were reported prior to 2008.
According to Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, Iceland's Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, “Recent data shows that the mackerel stock is in strong shape, with the 2013 international trawl survey conducted by Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands indicating a stock size of 8.8 million tonnes, far larger than expected. In issuing its 2014 mackerel catch recommendation, ICES stated today that the increased stock size may be due to shifts in the concentration of nutrients for mackerel to feed on and changes in the physical environment, which aligns with other evidence of rising water temperatures. With our focus on sustainable fisheries, Iceland will continue to work hard for an agreement between the coastal states in order to secure sustainable management of the mackerel stock.”
Iceland's chief negotiator for mackerel catch quotas, Sigurgeir Þorgeirsson, said, “Today's announcement from ICES is very good news and will provide a positive scientific platform for the Coastal States' mackerel negotiations later this month. The advice for total allowable catch 2014 issued by ICES recognises the fact that a massive amount of mackerel inhabit the Northeast Atlantic, including in Iceland's waters. It can hardly be doubted that the grossly increased north- and northwestly migration of the stock into our rich feeding grounds plays an important role in maintaining its size and healthy state. We believe strongly that mackerel catch quotas must be grounded in scientific data and an agreement on how to share the stock must reflect these realities."