24th Jun 2021

Iceland and Brussels in fishing row as EU talks begin

  • EU membership talks with Iceland began on 27 July with fisheries expected to be one of the thorniest issues on the table (Photo: EUobserver)

Just as Iceland is beginning its European Union membership negotiations, Brussels has warned it could block access for Icelandic and Faroe Islands fishermen to EU waters if they do not back down on plans to boost their mackerel catch.

Seas warmer than usual this year have seen a migration of mackerel out of EU waters to cooler more northerly territories fished by Icelanders and Denmark's Faeroese, who have both upped their mackerel catch allowances in response, angering Brussels.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki on Monday (9 August) warned of the EU's "grave concern" at the "unilateral" and "surprise" move, after the Faeroe Islands extended its catch limits the same day.

"This escalating trend, whereby unjustifiably high mackerel fishing quotas had been set firstly by Iceland and now by Faeroe Islands for 2010, is in clear contradiction with the avowed objective of sustainable fisheries," she said in a statement.

"Such actions risk causing the collapse of the northeast Atlantic mackerel stock, which would be to the detriment of all the fleets and industries concerned."

If the two countries do not row back on their stance, Ms Damanaki warned they could lose access to EU waters.

"We will put all our efforts into ending this untenable situation by trying to come to an agreement with all states fishing on the north eastern mackerel stock," she continued.

"Should our efforts not be fruitful, however, I cannot guarantee that we will continue to exchange fishing possibilities with Iceland and the Faroe Islands in 2011."

For their part, the Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners Association (LIU) has hit back, attacking the EU and Norway for excluding Reykjavik from mackerel negotiations over the last decade.

"There is no comprehensive agreement for the integrated management of the mackerel fishery. Norway and the EU have seriously undermined the credibility of their own management scheme for more than a decade by unlawfully blocking the participation of Iceland in mackerel negotiations," the group said in a statement.

"The current lack of an agreement for the integrated management of mackerel is a direct consequence of this regrettable behaviour by Norway and the EU."

As a result of Iceland not being admitted to negotiations for the industry for 2010, Icelandic fishermen unilaterally boosted its mackerel quota, they said.

EU membership talks with Iceland began on 27 July with fisheries expected to be one of the thorniest issues on the table.

Kerry resets climate relations before Glasgow summit

John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy, was in Brussels to discuss how to tackle climate change with the European Commission. His appearance also marked a major shift in relations after the previous US administration under Donald Trump.

Commission: Pioneering Nordics' energy mix 'example' to EU

The Nordic electricity market is an example of successful market integration plus climate action, as the share of sustainable energy keeps growing, the European Commission said. However, the decarbonisation of the transport sector remains a challenge.


How Energy Treaty 'shadow' courts prolong EU's fossil age

The treaty enables companies to claim billions in compensation from states in front of international arbitration tribunals, if they feel unfairly treated by the states' energy or climate policies.


Adriatic Sea 'risks turning into a water desert'

The Adriatic Sea risks turning into a water desert, experts warn. Overfishing, bottom trawling, pollution, and climate change are seriously threatening the biodiversity of the Adriatic.

EU's 2021 fishing quotas to exceed scientific advice

EU minister for fisheries have agreed on fishing opportunities for 2021, with provisional quotas for the fish stocks shared with the UK. However, experts warned that some of these quotas will lead to overfishing "with detrimental effects on fish populations".

News in Brief

  1. Gay-rights activist storms pitch at Hungary's Euro game
  2. UK defies Russian military over Crimea
  3. Delta variant to be 'predominant in EU by end-August'
  4. EU domestic banks need climate-risk plans
  5. Report: France and Germany want EU-Russia summit
  6. New EU rules on shipping fuels dubbed 'disastrous'
  7. Japan government proposes four-day working week
  8. US: Nord Stream 2 undermines Ukraine's security

EU faces long wait for full vaccine supplies

The EU is still several months away from having enough vaccines to inoculate its 450 million people, with Pfizer and BioNTech, its principle suppliers, aiming for September for delivery targets.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU talks migration over dinner, as NGO rescue-ship sets sail
  2. EU enlargement still 'hopelessly stuck'
  3. EU creates new cyber unit, after wave of online attacks
  4. How NOT to frame debate about Hungary's toxic anti-gay law
  5. What a post-Netanyahu Israel means for EU
  6. EU Commission warns Hungary over anti-LGBTIQ measures
  7. Fourteen EU countries condemn Hungary over anti-LGBTIQ law
  8. EU preparing to lift Burundi sanctions, despite warning

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us