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Iceland rejects 'unrealistic' EU mackerel quota: negotiator

by Staff Writers
Reykjavik (AFP) Oct 29, 2010
Iceland rejected a mackerel quota proposed by the European Union and Norway, saying it was unrealistic and would not solve the fishing spat in the north Atlantic, its negotiator said on Friday.

Iceland rejected a proposal to increase its quota of the fish to 26,000 tonnes, higher than the previous quota of 2,000 tonnes.

Reykjavik unilaterally raised the quota to 130,000 tonnes this year, angering the EU.

"The offer is unrealistic and does not contribute to fixing the problem," negotiator Tomas Heidar was quoted as saying by Frettabladid newspaper.

Iceland, which is hoping to join the European Union, says global warming has led mackerel to migrate into its fishing zones.

The Faroe Islands also tripled its quota to 85,000 tonnes.

Brussels and Oslo "consider themselves the sole owners of mackerel stocks, and as a result only offer small quotas to Iceland and the Faroes," said Heidar.

The European-Norwegian offer corresponded to 3.1 percent of the total European quota, against 16 percent if Iceland fished 130,000 tonnes.

A spokesman for the Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners dismissed the European offer.

"If we cannot reach an agreement on a quota that seems realistic for us, Iceland will do as before and fish according to our laws," said Sigurdur Sverrisson.

"The mackerel are in Icelandic waters and belong to us. Certain people will probably accuse us of over fishing, but all countries must be reasonable, not just one," he said.

The international environmental group WWF has warned that the unilateral quotas set by Iceland and the Faroes could mean a "death sentence" for the fish.

Negotiations are due to continue November 8-12 in London.

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