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Commission deeply concerned about Iceland's unilateral mackerel quota

Press release - 2/04/2009

The European Commission has expressed its serious concern at the recent action by Iceland to declare a unilateral mackerel quota of 112 000 tonnes for 2009.

"In setting such an exaggerated level of quota, Iceland is acting in contradiction to its international obligations to cooperate on the conservation of this key resource in the North East Atlantic," said Joe Borg, EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. "An Icelandic fishery of that dimension completely undermines the successful multilateral management of the stock by the EC, Norway and the Faroe Islands since 1999."

Up until the last two years, Iceland had little or no catches on this stock. In 2008, Iceland fished over 60 000 tonnes in an unregulated fishery, as the country itself admitted to the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC). In October 2008, the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands (the so-called Coastal States)  fixed a total allowable catch for this stock, allowing for catches of up to 605 000 tonnes for 2009, with a quota for Iceland in the NEAFC context of  1 738 tonnes.

The Commission considers that the overall catch fixed by the Coastal States for 2009 is well within safe biological limits for the stock. However, should Iceland fish its unilateral quota, the level of which has no scientific or historical justification, it would result in a complete reversal of the improved trends in this stock and would nullify the conservation efforts of the Coastal States undertaken over the last ten years.