Faroese mackerel fisheries in 2011

Industry Database

After another unsuccessful attempt to reach an agreement on multilateral management measures, the Minister of Fisheries has announced a total catch limit for mackerel fisheries in Faroese waters in 2011 of 150,000t.

This catch limit includes quotas exchanged with the Russian Federation and Iceland in bilateral fisheries agreements, as well as an amount set aside for dedicated scientific research on mackerel in Faroese waters.

Minister Jacob Vestergaard underlined that the total catch level for 2011 is a clear reflection of the status and legitimate interests of the Faroe Islands as a major stakeholder in the Northeast Atlantic mackerel stock. The Faroese fisheries zone is centrally located in the migration and distribution of mackerel and its abundance in Faroese waters, which is an important feeding area for mackerel, has increased substantially in recent years.

Minister Vestergaard also expressed his concern about the continued lack of agreement between the coastal states on a new four-party arrangement for the management of mackerel in the Northeast Atlantic.

“The economy of the Faroe Islands is overwhelmingly dependent on fisheries. The migratory pelagic stocks of mackerel, herring and blue whiting have long played a major part in total Faroese fisheries. As such, the Faroe Islands have an important stake in the sustainable utilisation and joint regional management of these valuable resources“, said Mr Vestergaard.

In the absence of a multilateral management agreement for 2011, the other mackerel coastal states, the EU, Iceland and Norway, announced in December their respective unilateral quotas for 2011, which together are well in excess of the total catch of 646,000 recommended by ICES as sustainable.

In 2010 the Faroe Islands set a mackerel quota far lower quota than those set by the other coastal states. Fisheries Minister Vestergaard expressed his grave disappointment at the approach taken by other mackerel coastal states so far in response to the continued lack of an agreed joint management arrangement.

“The restraint exercised by the Faroe Islands compared with other mackerel fishing states in 2010, together with our genuine efforts to encourage an open and active dialogue with other parties on the issue, have been met by landing bans and blockades and a refusal by the EU and Norway to renew long-standing bilateral fisheries agreements for 2011. This is certainly no way to cooperate on finding a fair solution to mackerel management, for which we are all responsible”, said Mr Vestergaard.

According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, coastal States have exclusive and sovereign rights to exploit, conserve and manage living natural resources in maritime areas within their jurisdictions. For shared fish stocks, such as the mackerel stock in the Northeast Atlantic, states are also obliged under international law to seek to agree upon the measures necessary to coordinate and ensure the conservation and development of these stocks.

“The obligation shared by the coastal states to seek consensus on mackerel management must be approached by all parties on an equal footing, with a clear recognition of the changes in the distribution of the mackerel stock,” said Mr Vestergaard.

Minister Vestergaard urged all relevant States to ensure that further consultations focus clearly and constructively on the need for a forward-looking approach to the future sustainable management of the Northeast Atlantic mackerel in 2012 and beyond.

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