Iceland’s small boat fishermen are less than satisfied with this year’s mackerel allocations, with 96% of quotas allocated to the pelagic fleet. The National Association of Small Boat Owners (NASBO) is lobbying for a 16% share of the mackerel quota.
NASBO has written to fisheries minister Thorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir requesting a meeting as soon as possible and have criticised the decision to allocate such a high proportion of the quota to the larger vessels.
‘NASBO expects that the minister should re-examine this decision and provide the small boat fleet with an opportunity to build up track records as the larger vessels were allowed to do,’ a statement from NASBO reads.
‘Those vessels were able to build up track records with unrestricted fishing long before the mackerel were present in coastal waters.’
According to NASBO, it is not possible to condone that the pelagic fleet built up its track records by catching high-quality fish for meal production, since when they have been rewarded with a 96% share of quotas. In addition, NASBO points out that quotas are allocated to vessels that caught no mackerel at all in the last season, but leased out their entire quotas.
‘It has been a huge disappointment to NASBO that your ministry’s officials have on your behalf signed off an unchanged regulation governing fishing for mackerel,’ NASBO states in its letter to the minister.
‘The main demand is that coastal vessels should have free fishing on mackerel until it has caught 16% of the TAC. The share currently allocated to them does not take into consideration fishing capacity or the failure to provide opportunities to build up track records, as the larger fleet sector was able to do, and more,’ state NASBO chairman Axel Helgason and director Örn Pálsson.
‘The amount allocated to the coastal feet is only a quarter of that allocated by Norway to its coastal fisheries. That allocation is based on decades of fishing experience. The regulation that has now been set makes the position os small boat owners even harder. Only a third of those allocated mackerel quotas have an operational basis that allows them to catch what they are allocated.’
‘We request a meeting at the earliest opportunity due to the seriousness of the situation now facing the owners of coastal fishing vessels.’