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Talks break down again

EC fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki

EUROPEAN fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki has condemned the inflexibility of negotiators who have spent the past three days trying to resolve the ongoing north east Atlantic mackerel dispute.

She said there was less than one per cent of a share of the overall stock preventing an agreement between the European Union, Norway, Faroe and Iceland gathered in Bergen.

The four coastal states gathered in Bergen from Wednesday to Friday in their latest attempt to reach “a fair and balanced agreement” to end a dispute that has rumbled on for the past three years with increasing acrimony.

After the talks ended once again without agreement, the European Commission said “ a great opportunity…has not yet been seized”.

Damanaki said the difference between the parties was so small it should be possible to overcome, blaming the other parties for being too inflexible.

“This is a multi-billion euro industry and we need to take the right decisions now to have a sustainable stock to fish for the future,” she said.

“A difference of 0.8 per cent of share remains to be found.

“The (European) Union has been the most flexible party in these negotiations and has done its utmost to broker a balanced and fair deal, but entrenched positions are blocking a solution.

“I urge all coastal states to reflect in the coming days in order to make a final push to resolve this dispute.”

The four states are scheduled to meet again in London next week to discuss arrangements for blue whiting and atlanto-scandian herring.