The European Union intends to block landings of mackerel from Iceland in EU ports until a dispute over quotas has been resolved.
The announcement was made by the European Commission at a meeting of the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes the EU Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
The dispute with Iceland dates back to 2010 when Iceland unilaterally increased its mackerel quota to 130 000 tonnes, compared to 2 000 in previous years. Iceland had justified this increase by stating that global warming was pushing stocks into its waters.
The European Commission has been warning for a number of months that it would take strong measures against Iceland, a candidate for EU membership, if a negotiated agreement could not be reached. It is hoped that this announcement will break the stalemate and bring Iceland back to the negotiating table.
The European Commission said in a press statement: “The EU and Iceland have a serious disagreement on the management of a fish stock of mutual interest, namely mackerel”. It continues: “The EU welcomed the positive signals from Iceland and looked forward to the early resumption [of consultations] for a mutual satisfactory conclusion of the negotiations.”
The Icelandic government has responded dismissively to the move, stating that it does not land any mackerel catches in the EU and the ban would not affect their fishery.