Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries: It’s time for us to sit down at the table

Iceland, a nation with a long heritage of sustainable fishing, places great value on working with our European neighbours and friends to ensure the careful management of the shared North East Atlantic fisheries stocks. However, input must be sought from every country to lead us to a workable, long-term solution.

Sadly, for several years there has been no comprehensive management arrangement in place for mackerel, Atlanto-Scandian herring or blue whiting which has led to the total catch from these stocks exceeding scientific advice. The absence of agreement threatens the future of our fish and fishermen alike, and casts shame on all the responsible, environmentally conscious fishing nations involved.

Iceland’s work to resolve this impasse through diplomatic efforts have not been fruitful. Iceland has not been included in the collective mackerel agreement talks since 2014.

Repeated and continued efforts over the past few years to resolve the issue have made progress but, in fall 2018, the remaining participants decided to bar Iceland from the latest mackerel agreement between the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands.

As a sovereign coastal state, Iceland sets its own quota in accordance with international law and since 2014, we have voluntarily applied our fixed share as part of the total allowable catch (TAC) decided by the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands.

This year we have opted to take the same share of the estimated overall catch from the mackerel stock. Setting Iceland’s quota unilaterally is a measure of last resort we have taken because we are not part of the joint agreement.

We stand ready to use all opportunities to set out Iceland’s point of view to our friends and neighbours and look forward to a meeting of Icelandic officials with the chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries (PECH) in Brussels on 3 September

All parties carry a joint responsibility to prevent overfishing of the stock and ensuring sustainable fisheries, but this only works when all parties negotiate and agree a joined-up solution.

Iceland remains resolute in its willingness to negotiate a solution ensuring a fair share for all while protecting the stock for future generations.

It’s time we got our seat at the table back.

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