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Fishing industry organisations in the EU are calling on Brussels to act against Norway and Faroe as the two nations unilaterally decided to increase their mackerel quotas by 55 percent. Echoing calls from UK industry leaders calling on Boris Johnson’s government to do the same, the two EU industry organisations warned mackerel fishing could increase to 42 percent higher than the scientific threshold recommended for the safeguard of the species.
They said: “We reiterate our call on the EU Commission and Council to act swiftly and decisively on this reckless and irresponsible behaviour by using the instruments at its disposal such as trade measures and the IUU regulation.
“In May of this year first Norway and then Faroe Islands decided to unilaterally increase their share in the mackerel fishery by 55 percent each.
“Now the fleets of Norway and Faroe Islands, but also the fleets of Iceland, Russia and Greenland, are massively targeting mackerel with as many vessels as possible. To a large extent their fisheries also take place in international waters.
“If this reckless and irresponsible behaviour continues with these coastal states fully utilising their inflated, unjustified quota shares, the total mackerel catch will be 42 percent higher than the scientific advice that was agreed in November 2020 by all parties.”
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EU pelagic industry leader Gerard van Balsfoort said: “The EU cannot and should not let this form of extreme overfishing continue by these coastal states, which is contrary to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and particularly the 1995 Straddling Stocks Agreement.
“I find it incredible that at the same time as acting in such an irresponsible manner, they portray themselves to be sustainable and responsible nations.
“There is no way Norway can defend itself for taking almost 300,000t or 35 percent of the scientifically advised total mackerel quota of 852,000t, and then fish most of it in the international waters outside their 200-mile zone.
“Norway happily continues to export huge amounts of their seafood, including farmed salmon, to the EU market as if this is business as usual.
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“The EU must immediately start using its power as the world’s largest import market for seafood and take action to stop such reckless and irresponsible behaviour.”
Norway is already at war with the EU over cod fishing.
The northern European nation claims EU vessels have used up their quotas in Norwegian waters, warning boats from the continent could be seized in the waters off Svalbard.
Svalbard is one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas that is home to more polar bears and reindeer than it is people.
Norwegians have claimed Brussels illegally awarded itself a larger trawl of Svalbard’s dish than it was originally entitled to.
The debate is an inflammatory legacy of the way the EU decided to reallocate fishing quotas in the wake of Brexit.
Brussels and Oslo have both accused each other of breaking international law while trying to determine the new cod catch.
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EU news: Norway is already at war with the EU over cod fishing
Audun Halvorsen, State Secretary to the Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs, said: “There is no basis in international law for the European Union to set quotas in Norwegian waters.”
The dispute was triggered by Brexit, specifically from the much-maligned process of separating fishing quotas.
The EU and the UK eventually agreed to carve up each of their existing fisheries quotas, which the UK also has off the coast of Svalbard.
As a part of the Brexit deal, Brussels allocated some 26,000 tonnes for EU vessels fishing off the coast of Svalbard.
This was immediately disputed by Norway – Oslo has insisted it has exclusive rights to regulate fishing in the area, informed the EU’s quota to almost 18,000 tonnes.
Mr Halvorsen said: “Controlling the resources in our national waters is a matter of fundamental national interest, as it is for the EU and its member states in EU waters.”
Brussels challenged the assertion by Norway by referring to the Svalbard Treaty.
The Svalbard Treaty was signed in Paris in 1920 and it puts limitations on Norwegian sovereignty over the islands.
The EU is now arguing Norway has discriminated against the EU in favour of Norwegian and Russian fishing vessels.