Norwegian vessel operators’ federation Fiskebåt has written to the country’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, demanding that Icelandic vessels should be barred from landing mackerel in Norwegian ports if Iceland intends to block Norwegian landings to Icelandic processors.
With good mackerel fishing in the Norwegian zone, two vessels that were not able to sell catches on the Sildelaget auction instead struck deals to land their catches in the Faroe Islands and Iceland – but the Icelandic authorities blocked the landings in Iceland.
At the same time, catches by Icelandic vessels have been sold through the Sildelaget auction.
‘We have a situation in which for several years Icelandic vessels have had virtually free fishing on mackerel, and Fiskebåt is aware that the Icelandic fleet fishes progressively less mackerel in their own EEZ,’ Fiskebåt states.
‘The Icelandic fleet’s fishing is to a great extent in international waters, up to the Norwegian EEZ. The figures from the latest international ecosystem survey indicate the zonal attachment of mackerel to Icelandic waters has been sharply reduced.’
According to Fiskebåt, there is at most 5% of the mackerel stock present in Icelandic waters over a three month period, and working on the principle of zonal attachment, this would result in a 1.25% quota share.
‘All the same, Iceland sets a mackerel quota equivalent to 16.50% of the recommended TAC,’ Fiskebåt’s spokesman said, commenting that the Norwegian quota is set at 35% of the recommended TAC, based on zonal attachment to Norwegian waters.
This year the Norwegian fleet started its mackerel season earlier than usual to cope with the additional quota available due to the Ministry’s move to set a unilateral Norwegian quota, significantly larger than in previous years.
‘Both the catching sector and the processing industry ashore have supported the Ministry’s methodology and conclusions. Fiskebåt is pleased to see that the Norwegian fleet has so far this year caught more than 150,000 tonnes of mackerel,’ Fiskebåt states.