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Mackerel stocks fall as talks fail again

THE LATEST round of talks to end the stalemate on an international agreement for the north east Atlantic mackerel fishery has failed.

The European Union is now likely to impose sanctions on Faroe and Iceland after the collapse of three days of talks between the three parties and Norway.

Iceland and Faroe have dramatically increased their mackerel quotas in recent years outside any international agreement.

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This has led to dramatic over fishing of the stock, causing scientists to recommend a 15 per cent cut in next year’s mackerel quota.

Scottish fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead

On Wednesday the public blame game set off again with Scottish fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead calling the island states “irresponsible”, while Iceland called for “fair share”.

Lochhead said: “We need an international deal that will see the mackerel stock sustainably fished – something that has regrettably not been the case over the past four years, with the Faroes and Iceland pursuing their own irresponsible quotas.

“It’s disappointing that these talks have failed to achieve a deal, which is clearly in the interests of all parties who share the fishery.

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“The ball is now firmly in their court and – if talks are to resume – both the Faroes and Iceland must come back to the table with a reasonable negotiating position.

“While our priority remains securing a four-party agreement, the EU has finally brought forward long-awaited sanction proposals. I hope the prospect of punitive action will re-focus Faroese and Icelandic minds.”

Iceland’s chief negotiator Sigurgeir Thorgeirsson

Iceland’s chief negotiator Sigurgeir Thorgeirsson said he knew only too well that the coastal states urgently needed to reach a solution to the mackerel issue.

“I am disappointed that no agreement has been reached despite proposals from Iceland on a considerable reduction of the catch,” he said.

“We remain willing to negotiate a solution that reduces the mackerel catch for all coastal states, based on scientific evidence, and ensures a fair share for all while protecting the stock for future generations.

“The coastal states carry a joint responsibility for preventing overfishing from the stock and ensuring sustainable fisheries.

“The delay by the coastal states to reach an agreement, including the re-allocation of quotas, is causing further harm to the mackerel stock and putting all of our economies at risk.”

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