Fisheries Agreement of Coastal States of Atlantic
Coastal States mackerel dispute Edinburgh March 2014
Mackerel dispute North-East Atlantic fishing
North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC).
Acuerdo pesquero entre la UE, Islas Feroe y Noruega
12 de Mar de 2014
Termina una disputa que llevó a la UE a prohibir el año pasado las importaciones de arenque y caballa de las islas Feroe. El acuerdo al que se ha llegado sobre la cuota de la UE este año para la caballa es de 611.205 toneladas. Tendrá validez hasta 2016.
El acuerdo establece un compromiso de pesca sostenible y otro de un nuevo plan de gestión a largo plazo para la caballa. «Las conversaciones han sido largas e intensas» ha dicho la comisaria de Asuntos Marítimos y Pesca, Maria Damanaki, que ha añadido que la puerta sigue abierta para que Islandia pueda unirse en un futuro próximo.
Las islas Feroe se han garantizado en el caladero de arenques atlánticoescandinavo una cuota que triplica con creces el anterior. Estas islas pertenecen al reino de Dinamarca pero se autogobiernan y no forman parte de la Unión Europea.
En el acuerdo que se ha negociado en Londres entre la UE y Noruega se han establecido las capturas totales permisibles (TACs) y las cuotas para los stocks compartidos en el mar del Norte. También se ha llegado a un acuerdo sobre la pesca en aguas del otro.
Significa un aumento del 5 % de las capturas totales TAC para el bacalao del mar del Norte y del 15 % para la platija respecto a 2013. Sin embargo, las capturas totales de merluza, carbonero y pescadilla se han reducido en un 15 % y las de abadejo en la misma zona un 2 %.
Asimismo se ha llegado a un acuerdo sobre la caballa entre los tres Estados ribereños (UE, Islas Feroe y Noruega), por el que la cuota de la UE en 2014 asciende a 611.205 toneladas.
North-East Atlantic fish stock disputes
The mackerel and herring conflicts
Fish stocks which migrate amongst, or are found in, the waters of several coastal states, or in international waters, require joint management to prevent over–fishing and to share fishing possibilities.
However, international disputes have arisen over the fishing of some North-East Atlantic (NEA) stocks. Having withdrawn from earlier agreed international arrangements with the EU and Norway on the management of the NEA mackerel stock, Iceland and the Faroe Islands have, for several years, unilaterally set their own fishing quotas and greatly increased their fishing of this stock. In 2013, the Faroe Islands took a similar stance for Atlanto-Scandian herring, unilaterally setting increased fishing quotas for their vessels.
In October 2012, the European Parliament and the Council adopted a Regulation whereby the European Commission may take restrictive measures against a country allowing non-sustainable fishing. On this basis, the Commission imposed trade sanctions against the Faroes with regard to the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock. However, no such measures have yet been taken against Iceland or the Faroe Islands in respect of their position on the fishing of mackerel stock.
European Parliamentary Research Service 09/12/2013
In this briefing:
Shared stocks: joint management
EU trade sanctions for unsustainable fishing
Shared stocks: joint management
International cooperation required
Fish do not recognise national boundaries, so sustainable exploitation of shared living sea resources requires joint management between fishing states.
This is fully recognised by the global community and enshrined in international law. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in particular sets obligations for coastal states and fishing states: to ensure proper conservation and management, to prevent over-exploitation of living marine resources, and to cooperate with each other over shared stocks. This cooperation can be pursued directly, through sub-regional or regional organisa-tions, or through specific arrangements. The United Nations Agreement on the implementation of the provisions of UNCLOS relating to the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory stocks (UNFSA) sets similar principles.1 Coastal states must respect the rights and duties of other states, and the obligations for international consultation and cooperation must be fulfilled in good faith.2
A number of regional organisations have been set-up over time as international fora (regional fisheries bodies and management organisations – RFBs and RFMOs) for discus-sion, cooperation and decision on specific fisheries or fisheries-related aspects in demarcated parts (regions) of world oceans.
North-East Atlantic cooperation (NEA)
Multilateral cooperation on numerous stocks in NEA international waters (notably blue whiting, haddock, herring, mackerel, redfish and deep-sea species) takes place under the auspices of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC).
The NEA area is also included as part of wider sea regions covered by other RFMOs, dedicated to the conservation of other fish species, like the North-Atlantic Salmon Conserva-tion Organisation (NASCO), for Atlantic salmon in the whole North Atlantic ocean, and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), dedicated to tuna and tuna-like species in both North and South Atlantic.
Beyond these established RFMOS, international con-sultation and cooperation also takes place under regular or ad hoc arrange-ments amongst NEA coastal states or any interested fishing states.
UNCLOS areas at sea
UNCLOS defines different types of areas at sea, with different rights and obligations for coastal and other potential user states, including:
- Territorial waters: up to 12 nautical miles (nm) from the coast, in which a coastal state can extend its full sovereignty to the sea area, including to the airspace over the territorial sea as well as to its bed and subsoil.
- Exclusive economic zones (EEZs): area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea, up to 200 nm, where the coastal state has sovereign rights, amongst others, for the exploitation, conservation and management of natural resources, whether living or non-living.
- High seas: open to all states, with inter alia freedom of access for fishing (subject to conditions, notably an obligation for inter-national cooperation for the conservation and management of living resources).
EU mackerel fisheries
About 800 EU vessels have a strong economic dependence on mackerel (i.e. the value of the mackerel catch is over 39% of the value of the total catch of a fleet segment – national vessels of a specific length range and using a specific fishing gear). These vessels represent over 1 630 jobs and generate gross added value above €45 million (source Commission, 2009 data).
Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) is a migratory species. For NEA fisheries management purposes, it is considered as a single stock divided into three components: southern (off Portuguese and Spanish coasts), western (the largest, from the Bay of Biscay up to the North of Scotland), and North Sea (less than 5% of the stock).
Up to the mid 2000s, the mackerel stock was mainly found in the waters of Norway and EU Member States (MS). However, in recent years, its distribution range has expanded north-westwards, particularly during spawning and summer feeding migration. This phenomenon is seen by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) – an internationally recognised body for scientific advice in fisheries management – as possibly being related to ecosystem considerations, notably changes in food availability, water temperature and stock size.
Past regional fisheries arrangement
Norway and EU MS have historically been by far the largest fishing nations of NEA mackerel, as well as the Faroe Islands to a lesser extent, and have regularly consulted on this fishery. Their joint fishing management plan, agreed in October 2008, was evaluated by ICES as precautionary (i.e. not threatening the stock). However, from 2006 onwards Icelandic vessels, which had previously not landed a significant amount of mackerel, started to significantly increase their catch of the stock (outside the multi-lateral management plan).3
Iceland, citing a shift in mackerel migration, requested a large share of the resources during coastal states' consultations held in 2009 (EU, Norway, Faroe Islands and Iceland). However, Iceland did not join the management regime and set its own catch limit for 2010 (130 000 tonnes). In the course of the same consultation rounds, the Faroe Islands, also requesting a higher share of the stock, finally withdrew from the existing arrangement and also set a unilateral quota for its vessels (85 000 tonnes – about three times their previous share). Since 2009, there have been no internationally agreed catch limits on NEA mackerel stock.
Concerns about sustainability
The lack of international agreement and the excessive total catches of mackerel trig-gered concern. ICES recommended a maximum catch for 2010 of 572 000 tonnes, while actual catches were above 900 000 tonnes. An analysis of the so-called 'mackerel conflict' in 2010 concluded that "combined quota demands far exceed sustainable harvesting levels and will by all likelihood lead to over-exploitation". A decline in the mackerel spawning stock was observed in later years (ICES September 2012).
EU Atlanto-Scandian herring fisheries
Herring landings account for more than 10% of the overall revenue of 11 different fleet segments (a total of around 580 EU vessels). These represent gross added value of €285 million and over 2 500 full-time jobs (source Commission,5 data 2011).
Atlanto-Scandian Herring (also known as Norwegian spring-spawning herring) is probably the largest of the Atlantic herring stocks. Highly migratory, this stock is distributed in international waters and waters under the sovereignty of the EU (MS' EEZs), the Russian Federation, Norway, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands.
Regional fisheries arrangement
These five 'coastal parties' have for years regularly consulted to jointly manage the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock. Since 2007, they have agreed on arrangements for a long-term precautionary management plan and on rules for fixed shares of their respective fishing possibilities.4
2013: withdrawal of the Faroes
However, during consultations at the end of 2012 to coordinate their fisheries for 2013 (for which the scientific recommendation in accordance with the agreed management plan was to reduce total catches of herring by 26% compared to 2012), the Faroe Islands refused to continue with the existing catch-allocation proportions. At the beginning of 2013, the four remaining parties agreed between them to continue, as much as possible, with international coordination on herring stock management, following the already agreed precautionary management plan and on the basis of the respective shares previously agreed. They set aside the share which would have been available for the Faroe Islands (5.16% of the total catch, i.e. 31 000 tonnes for 2013). In March 2013, the Faroe Islands announced the unilateral setting of a national catch limit of over 105 000 tonnes (more than a three-fold increase).
According to ICES (May 2013), the Faroe Islands' catch, added to those set under the four 'coastal parties' arrangement, would render the total fishing levels non-precautionary, with an increased risk of collapse of a relatively low and decreasing stock.
Other stock conflicts
International disagreements on mackerel and herring fishing are not isolated cases. Blue whiting has for years been subject to the setting of individual catch levels by coastal parties, in total greatly exceeding sustainable fishing levels. When a manage-ment plan was eventually agreed among coastal states in 2008, it was too late to allow the stock to recover quickly. This led to subsequent drastic catch reductions (e.g. within NEAFC in 2011) with significant socio-economic consequences.6
EU external fisheries policy
The EU is a major international player in fisheries, considering in particular the presence of EU vessels in all oceans, its participation in numerous RFMOs and its engagement in bilateral dialogues with third countries and bilateral fisheries agreements.
In its 2011 Communication (COM(2011)424 final) on the external dimension of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the Commission set new policy orientations, intending among other priorities, to contribute to more responsible international fisheries governance and to putting an end to illegal fishing. It also recalled the traditionally strong relationship with the EU's northern neighbour fishing countries and the need to strengthen EU cooperation with these neighbours in coastal states' fora.
Tackling illegal or unsustainable fishing
Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 established a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. This is based on a certification scheme which applies to all trade in fishery products. It allows for possible sanctions on IUU fishing by prohibiting trade with the EU in fishery products stemming from IUU practices.
However, the NEA mackerel catches of Icelandic and Faroe Islands' vessels referred to previously cannot be considered IUU fishing under the above Regulation, notably since coastal state arrangements are not legally binding under international law, and these fisheries are conducted under national coastal state law, mainly in their country's EEZ.7
Based on a Commission proposal presented in December 2011, the EP and the Council adopted an additional legal instrument in October 2012 for the purpose of conserv-ation of fish stocks. Regulation (EU) No 1026/2012 sets a framework to enable the Commission to take measures against a country allowing non-sustainable fishing.
In November 2012, in its resolution in response to the Commission communi-cation on the external dimension of the CFP, the EP supported strengthened action against IUU fishing and "welcom[ed] the Commission's proposal for trade-related measures such as import restrictions on fish and fishery products to countries allowing non-sustainable fishing...",8 reiterating the position taken when voting on the additional legal instrument, and finalised in Regulation (EU) No 1026/2012.
EU trade sanctions for unsustainable fishing
Herring: EU sanctions against the Faroes
As provided for under Regulation 1026/2012, the Commission sent a prior formal notification to the Faroese authorities on 17 May 2013, in response to which the Faroese fisheries minister called for continued consultations rather than economic sanctions.
Sanctions taken in August 2013
However, the response from the Faroe Isands, together with its unwillingness to rectify the unilateral catch limits for 2013, led the Commission to conclude that the country continues to allow non-sustainable fishing. Following a positive opinion by the Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture on a draft of the measures, the European Commission adopted implementing Regul-ation (EU) No 793/2013 on 20 August 2013, establishing measures in respect of the Faroe Islands to ensure the conservation of the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock.
In order to prevent the Faroe Islands taking advantage of EU markets, ports and facilities to maintain their unsustainable fishing for herring, any introduction into EU territory of herring or products containing herring, where these fish have been caught under the control of the Faroe Islands, is prohibited. Vessels catching herring under the Faroes' control and vessels transporting such herring products are prohibited from using EU ports. In addition, these restrictions on EU trade and vessels' access to EU ports are similarly applicable with regard to mackerel caught under the control of the Faroe Islands. This latter aspect aims to prevent incentives for unsustainable herring mortality to continue, because the Faroe herring fisheries catch mackerel and herring at the same time ("associated species").
At the end of August 2013, Norway also announced restrictions on herring from Faroe Islands' vessels.
Request for international arbitration
Condemning this EU decision, the Faroe Islands decided on 21 August to refer the case to an international arbitration tribunal (under Annex VII of UNCLOS). By early November 2013, the Faroe Islands had also initiated additional proceedings under the World Trade Organisation's dispute settlement mechanism.
Notwithstanding the adoption of measures against the Faroe Islands, consultations among coastal states continued (e.g. in September and October 2013), but by the beginning of December 2013 they had not yet led to agreement.
Mackerel: no EU sanctions so far...
In October 2012, the Commission stated (E-007604/2012) that it was preparing for the possibility of applying measures against Iceland and the Faroe Islands, once the new Regulation (i.e. 1026/2012) entered into force. Questioned again in March 2013 (O-00023/2013), the Commission said that it had to carefully consider the legal conditions to be met, as well as the timing of its actions.
In the absence of any sign of a change of position from the new government (following elections in Iceland in May 2013), EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, indicated to the European Parliament (EP) Fisheries Committee9 on 10 July that her services had been instructed to prepare for a possible Commission decision on the matter.
In a note submitted to the Fisheries Council meeting of 15 July 2013, several Member States reiterated the need for the Commission to take immediate measures to prevent unsustainably caught fish coming into the EU.
However, reporting on this issue again in the Fisheries Committee on 17 October,10 Commission officials indicated that the situation had since evolved as there had been new scientific indications of an increase in the mackerel stock (confirmed in ICES advice of October). This new situation could weaken the argument that the overfishing of mackerel by Iceland and the Faroe Islands was harming the sustainability of the stock. For the Commission, this increase in mackerel stock could, however, also be seen as an opportunity, providing a new base to continue discussions among coastal parties and to try to find a compromise on a new share of the stock, without absolute losses of quotas by the EU.
Coastal state consultations took place again on 24 October, with no positive outcome but an announcement of their resumption in the following weeks.
Informed of the situation in the Council meeting of 17 October, several Member States expressed support for a fair and balanced solution but would not accept an agreement with Iceland and the Faroe Islands at any cost if EU interests were not preserved. They also insisted on the need for the EU to only act in a manner pre-agreed with Norway.
Disclaimer and Copyright
This briefing is a summary of published information and does not necessarily represent the views of the author or the European Parliament. The document is exclusively addressed to the Members and staff of the European Parliament for their parliamentary work. Links to information sources within this document may be inaccessible from locations outside the European Parliament network. © European Union, 2013. All rights reserved.
Fishermen's representatives (e.g. Scottish pelagic fishermen's association or the Shetland fishermen's association) do not want their interests to be compromised, and even see the possibility of such a new deal as a reward to Iceland and the Faroes for their 'piracy'.
The issue is also of interest to Members of the European Parliament. It was placed on the agenda of the Fisheries Committee meeting of 27 November (in camera) and on the agenda of the December 2013 Plenary session (Oral question O-000113/2013).
www.europarl.europa.eu/.../North-East-Atlantic-fish-... Briefing. European Parliamentary Research Service 09/12/2013. North-East Atlantic fish stock disputes. The mackerel and herring conflicts. Author: Jean ...
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