Unsustainable mackerel fishing in the North East Atlantic
Commissioner Maria Damanaki participated in the European Parliament plenary debate in Strasbourg on 15th April, answering a question on 'Unsustainable mackerel fishing in the North East Atlantic' tabled by Mr Gallagher, MEP:
"As I have stressed on many occasions, in this House and in the Council, the Commission very much sympathises with the fishermen who are affected by the continuous uncertainty surrounding the mackerel fisheries. I have in mind in particular small fishermen and their families, who are more vulnerable to a decline in fishing opportunities than the large, still very profitable pelagic fishing industry. The Commission remains committed to doing the best we can to protect those fishermen.
We are monitoring the situation very carefully. Several possible lines of action are still open and none of these actions is being ruled out at this point in time. We will continue to use all available channels to exercise political pressure on Iceland and the Faroe Islands, together with our Norwegian colleagues.
The option of trade sanctions is of course on the table. However, it is important that we consider carefully a) the legal conditions we have to meet and b) the timing. For mackerel, we are now discussing with the Member States all the possible options. Next week I'll meet the Norwegian minister to come to a decision. We have already looked into the procedural aspects, with the aim of accelerating the decision-taking process if and when we go forward. The Commission wants to assure all Members of this House that it will keep them informed.
On the case of Atlanto-Scandian herring. The Commission regrets the announcement made on 26 March by the Faroe Islands, whereby they intend to unilaterally more than triple their quota. Both the Commission and our Norwegian partners under a common statement have expressed our concerns and have called on the Faroe Islands to reverse those steps immediately. This unilateral move risks affecting seriously the health and sustainability of this important fish stock. On this case I have given the green light to open the internal Commission procedure for using the trade instrument against the Faroe Islands."