Fianna Fáil MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher has urged the European Commission to impose sanctions on Iceland after its failure to cooperate with an international agreement on mackerel fishing.
The deal reached days ago between the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands on the sharing of mackerel in the North East Atlantic will see Ireland’s mackerel quota almost double from 57,000 tonnes in 2013 to over 105,000 tonnes this year.
However, Mr Gallagher warned that while the five-year deal is welcome, it does not tackle the “indiscriminate and reckless” over-fishing of mackerel by Iceland. Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, he slammed EU Commissioner Maria Damanaki’s handling of the crisis as “disappointing, to say the least.”
“I have no doubt that if Commissioner Damanaki had imposed sanctions against Iceland last year, we would not be in the situation we face today whereby Iceland once again refuses to cooperate with the other coastal states,” said Mr Gallagher. He also criticised the Faroe Islands’ share of almost 13 per cent in its mackerel quota, which he said was “totally unjustified” and could result in long term losses for the Irish sector.
The dispute has been ongoing since in 2009 when Iceland claimed there had been a mackerel migration shift in its favour. Iceland’s share of mackerel catches has ballooned from 1 per cent in 2006 to 23 per cent last year.
“Trade sanctions must now come back onto the table if we are to find a long-term solution,” said Mr Gallagher.