No agreement was reached on the allocation of quotas in mackerel fisheries in the Northeast-Atlantic next year at a meeting of the four coastal States, Iceland, the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands which was held in Clonakilty, Ireland, from 6-9 December. Russia attended the meeting as an observer.
At the meeting the EU and Norway submitted a proposal on the allocation of quotas between the four coastal States. The proposal was totally unrealistic, represented a step backwards from recent meetings and was therefore very disappointing to the Icelandic authorities. Since it did not seem possible to reach an agreement on the future management of mackerel fisheries, Iceland proposed an interim arrangement in order to ensure conservation of the stock. According to the arrangement, the parties would respect the total allowable catch recommended by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) for 2012, 639,000 tonnes, and keep their current percentage shares in the fishery. The other parties were not willing to accept the proposal.
In light of the aforementioned, Iceland will have an unchanged share in the mackerel fisheries in 2012, around 16%, but Iceland´s quota will take into account a small reduction in the total allowable catch recommended by ICES.
Iceland encourages the other coastal States to take this into account in their quota decisions for 2012. The quotas determined by the EU and Norway for 2011 amounted to more than 90% of the recommended total allowable catch. Thereby, these parties disregarded the legitimate interests of the other coastal States, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, and those of Russia. The quota decision of the EU and Norway was in fact a prescription of overfishing from the mackerel stock and the Icelandic authorities strongly criticized it. It is hoped that this will not be repeated.
The Icelandic authorities continue to place emphasis on the need to reach an agreement on the management of mackerel fisheries in order to ensure sustainable fisheries and prevent further overfishing from the stock. Iceland is therefore committed to continue contributing to reaching an agreement in cooperation with the other coastal States. The aforementioned decision is subject to review, should an agreement be reached between the parties.