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Ministry of Food٫ Agriculture and Fisheries

Iceland Responds to One-Sided Decision by Marine Conservation Society Regarding Sustainable Mackerel Fishing

The following statement has been issued by Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, Minister of Industries and Innovation, Government of Iceland, in response to the Marine Conservation Society's decision to re-list Icelandic mackerel as a ‘fish to avoid'. The Marine Conservation Society's decision unfortunately does not factor in Iceland's continual requests for collaboration with other Coastal States (the EU, including Scotland, as well as Norway and the Faroe Islands) to set sustainable catch levels or its own 15 percent reduction in its 2013 mackerel catch.

“We are disappointed by the Marine Conservation Society's decision to re-list Icelandic mackerel as ‘fish to avoid' for consumers while upgrading European mackerel. This unreasonable move toward Icelandic mackerel does not consider the scientific facts of the debate and Iceland's repeated efforts to find a fair solution to mackerel fishing quotas. Because the Marine Conservation Society did not engage with Iceland's government or Iceland Responsible Fisheries prior to issuing its ratings, we hope to meet with the organisation as soon as possible to explain how Iceland is protecting the mackerel stock by reducing our catch and fishing using sustainable practices, and to explore opportunities to collaborate on research and fisheries management policy.”

“The portion of the total mackerel stock inhabiting Iceland's waters has increased massively from 23 percent in 2010 and 2011 to 30 percent in 2012. Despite this, the EU and Norway met behind closed doors to jointly claim 90 percent of the recommended 2013 total mackerel catch, a significantly oversized portion which left only 10 percent for Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Russia combined. According to international law, Iceland, like the other Coastal States, has an incontestable right to a fair portion of this shared fish stock, particularly to ensure that overpopulation does not damage our marine ecosystem.”

“Iceland has repeatedly come to the negotiating table with fair, science-based quota proposals. These have all been rejected. In addition, we have made a number of public and private requests to reconvene the Coastal States for negotiations. Despite the silence from the EU (including Scotland) and Norway after these requests, Iceland cut its 2013 mackerel catch by 15 percent and committed to cut further if other countries do as well. Iceland's government and fishing industry are eager to find a solution as soon as possible and again ask the Coastal States to return to the negotiating table in good faith.

“Protecting the Northeast Atlantic mackerel stock is the responsibility of all Coastal States. Iceland has partnered with the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and other research institutes to ensure that science drives our decisions about fishing levels and techniques. Blaming one or two parties to the dispute, as the Marine Conservation Society has done, will confuse consumers and will not help to secure an agreement between all Coastal States.”


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