01.03.2012 · The Government

Catch limit set for Faroese mackerel fisheries in 2012

Press release - Ministry of Fisheries

The Minister of Fisheries, Jacob Vestergaard, has 29 February 2012 announced a total catch limit for mackerel fisheries in Faroese waters in 2012 of 148,375 tonnes. This limit is slightly lower than the level set in 2011 in order to take account of the ICES recommendation for a decrease in the total allowable catch in 2012 compared to 2011.

Minister Vestergaard underlined that the total catch level for 2012, which includes quotas exchanged with other Parties in bilateral fisheries agreements, as well as an amount set aside for dedicated scientific research on mackerel in Faroese waters, is a clear reflection of the status and legitimate interests of the Faroe Islands as a stakeholder in the Northeast Atlantic mackerel stock. The Faroese fisheries zone is centrally located in the migration and distribution of mackerel. Mackerel occurs in great abundance and density in Faroese waters for at least 6 months of the year, exploiting the excellent feeding conditions in the Faroese area during the summer. During this period the average fat content of mackerel increases from 2% to 30%, with an average individual weight increase of 55%, which benefits all Parties participating in the mackerel fisheries.

The decision to set the Faroese mackerel quota for 2012 has been taken after the failure of coastal States to reach an agreement on multilateral management measures for 2012 at their last meeting in Reykjavík on 14 -16 February. "Without an agreed measure between the coastal States which exploit this shared resource in the Northeast Atlantic, it is clear that the Faroe Islands have both a right and a duty to set a catch limit for mackerel in waters under Faroese maritime jurisdiction in 2012 in order to ensure that our fisheries operate within a responsible framework for management and control", said Mr Vestergaard.

In announcing the Faroese catch limit for 2012, Minister Vestergaard also expressed his disappointment that an agreement on allocation between the four mackerel coastal States, the Faroe Islands, EU, Iceland and Norway, had not yet been reached as a common basis for setting national catch limits. In particular, Mr Vestergaard noted his concern that after several rounds of negotiations in recent months, the EU and Norway still seem unwilling to fully acknowledge the changes in the mackerel distribution and the legitimate interests in, and national dependency of the Faroe Islands on the mackerel stock.

"From the Faroese perspective, the proposals for sharing of the stock put on the table by EU and Norway during the negotiations have been far from equitable" said Mr Vestergaard. He noted that the international obligation of the coastal States to seek consensus on mackerel management must be approached by all parties on an equal footing, with the need for a greater recognition of the changes in the distribution of the mackerel stock, and thereby a new approach to joint management.

Minister Vestergaard urged all Coastal States to ensure that subsequent consultations on the sustainable management of the Northeast Atlantic mackerel take a more realistic and forward-looking approach to joint management of this valuable share fisheries resource in 2013 and beyond.

For further information, contact Mr Andras Kristiansen, Head of Department, Tel. +298 55 32 41; E-mail: andras.kristiansen@fisk.fo