Iceland has announced that it is taking a unilateral and self-imposed cut of 15% on its mackerel quota for 2013.
With the UK mackerel fishery largely a Scottish fishery, Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead, says: ‘It is disappointing that Iceland remains intent on taking an excessively large share of the TAC (total allowable catch), a greater share than Scotland, despite their short history in the fishery.
‘This will continue to damage our most valuable stock and an opportunity has been missed to show willingness to help bring this dispute to end.’
The European Commission noted that Iceland’s chosen 15% cut disguises the fact that its take of mackerel has been extremely high before this cut and will remain so even after it.
The EC also expressed disappointment that Iceland has chosen to go it alone and to take its decision on a quota cut independently of its partner nations – although Iceland, while integrated in the EU, is an accession state and not an EU member.
This move, following on similar action in 2012, suggests that Iceland is prepared to risk punitive delay in its adoption as a full EU member, in favour of looking after its own interests.
Iceland and the Faroes have effectively been taking what mackerel they want, despite scientific evidence that mackerel stocks are in need of the protection of agreed quotas.