Sanctions deadline set

The EC will impose trade sanction measures against the Faroe Islands at the end of this month. Credit:  Atle Grimsby/CC-BY-2.0 The EC will impose trade sanction measures against the Faroe Islands at the end of this month. Credit: Atle Grimsby/CC-BY-2.0

The European Commission will impose trade sanction measures against the Faroe Islands at the end of this month due to the overfishing of Atlanto-Scandian herring, and similar measures will also be brought forward for Iceland.

The EC revealed in Brussels this week that it will quickly implement sanctions unless the Faroese stop fishing for herring and bring forward a suitable plan for sustainable fishing of the stock.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association said: “This is welcome news and we are pleased the EC has given its commitment to deliver firm action. The irresponsible behaviour of both Faroes and Iceland in their overfishing of key stocks cannot be allowed to continue.”

But the Icelandic Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, released a statement saying that “The threats of sanctions by the EU are counterproductive and excessive, particularly in light of the EU and Norway’s own overfishing of mackerel.”

“Attempts to intimidate Iceland by proposing illegal sanctions will not settle this important and sensitive matter,” he said. “The Prime Minister has again underlined today in Brussels that such proposed sanctions would be in breach of World Trade Organization rules.”

He said that as mackerel is a shared stock it requires responsible management by all Coastal States, and that Iceland has repeatedly offered proposals to reduce the Coastal States catch levels, based on scientific research, which the EU and Norway have rejected.

He, again, reinforced the point that Iceland reduced its mackerel catch by 15% this year and that “Even though up to 30 percent of the mackerel stock now reside in Iceland’s waters for the summer feeding season, the EU chose to ignore scientific evidence regarding the mackerel stock’s changing migratory patterns, collaborating with Norway to unilaterally claim 90 percent of the recommended mackerel catch.”

“Let me reiterate, that we continue to be eager to negotiate a fair solution for all Coastal States”, he concluded.

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