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PREPARATORY work on banning landings of Icelandic mackerel at EU ports has begun, according to EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki.
Ms Damanaki has requested a meeting of the European Economic Area Joint Committee on 14 January to discuss how the blockade could be implemented.
The move follows Iceland’s unilateral declaration of a 147,000 tonne mackerel quota for 2011, that has caused anger amongst EU and Norwegian fishermen.
Tory MEP Struan Stevenson, who is senior vice president of the fisheries committee, welcomed Ms Damanaki’s announcement saying is showed she was “prepared to act tough as well as talk tough”.
Iceland say that the mackerel have migrated further into their waters and therefore it is only right they should catch more of the valuable species.
Meanwhile another group is demanding trade sanctions against Iceland for its fishing activities.
A total of 19 US conservation and animal welfare groups have called on the US government to impose trade sanctions against Iceland over its commercial whaling.
A petition filed by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) on behalf of the ‘Whales Need US’ coalition and Species Survival Network, has urged the government to invoke the Pelly Amendment, which allows trade sanctions against any country diminishing the effectiveness of conservation agreements.
Iceland has defied an international ban on commercial whaling and trade in whale products after resuming commercial whaling in 2006
In 2009 it gave itself a quota to catch 150 fin whales, even though they are an endangered species.
This year Iceland exported more than 800 tonnes of whale meat, blubber and oil worth more than £7 million to Japan, Norway and Faroe. It also shipped whale products to Latvia and Belarus.
Kitty Block, of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), said she was optimistic that the Obama administration will impose sanctions.
“We are greatly encouraged to hear that the administration has serious concerns with Iceland’s whaling and trade and is ‘considering its options’. Imposing trade measures will provide the US with the opportunity to demonstrate the kind of leadership on whale conservation that the US public demands,” she said.
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