Gatt: Further sanctions must be imposed

25 Jan 2011

Ian Gatt has said that further sanctions must be imposed upon Iceland and their Accession talks to join the EU put on hold until there is a satisfactory resolution to the ongoing dispute over mackerel quotas.

In a presentation to the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament in Brussels today on behalf of European fishing representative body Europeche, Mr Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said that Iceland’s significant unilateral quota for mackerel is threatening the sustainability of the stock and undermining the future livelihoods of European fishing communities.

“How can Iceland justify fishing flat out for mackerel when the stock is in their waters?” he said. “If the European fleet adopted that attitude when the stock is in the EU zone, there would be very little fish left to swim in Icelandic waters. That’s simply no way to manage fisheries if we are to pass on healthy stocks and viable enterprises to the next generation.”

He added: “Commissioner Damanaki has written to the Parliament stating the EU’s intention to ban Icelandic mackerel landings into EU ports. This move is very much welcomed by the European pelagic fleet as a first step, but further stronger sanctions will be needed to have any meaningful effect as Icelandic vessels don’t have a history of landing mackerel in the EU. 

“It’s quite incredible the Commission needs to invoke sanctions against a country seeking to join the Union, but clearly, protecting the rights of the existing Members must be the priority. The EU must stand up for the rights of those Member States already in the Union and ensure the stocks we rely on and our businesses are protected from countries on the outside. Given this is probably the EU’s most valuable fish stock it’s only right and proper that resolution of the dispute is a pre-condition for accepting Iceland into the body of the EU.”

Mr Gatt concluded: “The EU must also deploy consequential sanctions against Iceland until the dispute has been resolved to the satisfaction of the 14 Member States reliant on this stock.
“In addition, the EU must urgently develop policies to arm itself against those who seek to damage the businesses and fabric of the Member State’s Communities.”

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