ICELAND has already fished a third of its unilateral and controversial 130,000 ton mackerel quota, it has been revealed.
The country' pelagic fishing fleet is continuing to take mackerel despite protests from the European Union and from Norway. The Faroe Islands are also on collision course with the EU because they too have set themselves a unilateral mackerel quota. Up to this weekend, Iceland had taken just over 43,500 tones of mackerel. However, the fishing authorities in Reykjavik said that virtually all of the catch has been frozen in the form of fillets, making it eminently suitable for human consumption. This, the say, is a considerable change from earlier seasons when a large share of the catch was utilized for meal and oil production.
However, the EU may start to get tough. The Irish, backed by at least eight EU countries including Britain, have made a formal complaint about Iceland's unilateral mackerel quota and warn that it could damage its bid to join the European Union . A letter of complaint has been sent to the EU Fisheries Commissioner Mara Damanaki in which Dublin warns that overfishing for mackerel could permanently and adversely affect the stock.
This, however, has not daunted Iceland's pelagic industry. One of the major companies in this area, HB Grandi, continues to openly report good fishing by its vessels. They also add that the quality of fish being caught is excellent and there is very little by-catch because the mackerel are feeding on krill. The catches will be processed and marketed. "Catching the fish presents no problems and the fishing gear performs well, the company says. "What really sets the pace is the freezing capacity on board."
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