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Coveney opposes EU plans on mackerel quotas

The European Commission is attempting to end a dispute with Iceland and the Faroe Islands over fishing rights in the north-east Atlantic.

Updated 4:05 PM

THE IRISH GOVERNMENT has spoken out against an EU plan aimed at resolving a long running dispute over mackerel fishing in the north-east Atlantic.

The EU is keen to end the dispute with Iceland and the Faroe Islands who have increased their overall share of mackerel in the area from 5 per cent  in 2005 to 52 per cent in 2013.

The standoff lead to the EU placing  trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes in July after they continued to increase their share of the mackerel catch without agreement.

In an effort to resolve the impasse the commission is believed to have devised a deal that would see Iceland get 11.9 per cent and the Faroe Islands 12 per cent of the future total allowable catch for mackerel.

At a meeting in Luxembourg today however, Minister for Agriculture and the Marine Simon Coveney argued against “rewarding Iceland and the Faroe Islands for their unacceptable and irresponsible actions in respect of the shared mackerel stock over the past number of years.”

“While any deal should provide a fair and justifiable quota share for Iceland, it must also protect the interests of EU member states like Ireland who have relied on this fishery for over 40 years,” he said.

Coveney added that any new offer to Iceland on their mackerel fishing rights must only be made on the basis of equal burden sharing with non-EU member Norway.

Fianna Fáil MEP and member of the parliament’s fisheries committee Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP labelled the deal being discussed as “disgrace” saying that it would impact on Ireland’s fishing rights:

If these figures are accepted, it would possibly result in a reduced share of mackerel quota for Ireland in the long-run. As a result, Iceland and the Faroe Islands would reap larger mackerel quotas than Ireland, which is an absolute disgrace.

The desire for a deal has been given extra impetus following advice last week from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) which advised that there would be scope to increase the North Atlantic mackerel catch by 64 per cent next year.

Fisherman at Ireland’s largest fishing port in Killybegs have suggested a multi-tiered deal that would see Iceland and the Faroe Islands getting different allowances based on the size of mackerel stocks at any given time.

Negotiations are due to take place in London next week between all the parties involved in the stalemate.

Ireland will take part in the discussions with Coveney requesting a meeting with EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki ahead of the meeting.

Read: Iceland PM hits back in mackerel fishing row >

Read: Ireland pushes for sanctions against Faroe Islands, Iceland for ‘unsustainable fishing’ >

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Rónán Duffy

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