Ireland North West MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher was speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg this week during a key debate on illegal fishing.
Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP was highly critical of the EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki due to her inept response to the overfishing of mackerel by Iceland and the Faroe Islands in the North East Atlantic.
Iceland’s share of mackerel in the North East Atlantic was 1% in 2006, it now stands at almost 23% in 2013. The Faroe Islands have increased its share from 4.6% in 2009 to 29.3% in 2013.
In direct response to the actions of Iceland and the Faroe Islands, the European Parliament and Council of Ministers adopted the Gallagher Report on trade measures against non EU countries fishing in an unsustainable manner. The Report by MEP Pat the Cope introduced a range of new trade measures aimed at preventing overfishing. However, despite its introduction into EU law some nine months ago, the Commission has failed to introduce the new measures against Iceland and the Faroe Islands with respect to mackerel. The Commission recently started a procedure of introducing trade measures against the Faroe Islands under the new legislation concerning its overfishing of Atlanto Scandia Herring. It is yet to take any action concerning the overfishing of mackerel.
The mackerel fishery is worth EUR 125 million to the Irish pelagic industry and is the most important fishery in Killybegs, Ireland’s largest fishing port.
Mr. Gallagher during the debate in Parliament in which Commissioner Damanaki was present stated that “the continued failure by you Commissioner (Damanaki) to tackle the reckless overfishing of mackerel by both Iceland and the Faroe Islands is inexplicable and astonishing. Sanctions against the Faroe Islands and Iceland must be implemented immediately. Otherwise, if the present trend continues there will be no necessity for further meetings as there will be no fish! As Fisheries Commissioner you are ignoring the express wishes of the Parliament and Council, which is totally unacceptable.”
During the debate Mr. Gallagher also revealed that up to “six local companies in the Faroe Islands have applied for foreign factory and processing vessels to operate in Faroese waters.” Thus indicating the lack of willingness by the Faroe Islands in particular to return to the negotiating table.
In relation to the decision by the Commissioner to start proceedings against the Faroe Islands concerning Atlanto Scandia Herring, Mr. Gallagher stated that these “sanctions against the Faroese must include mackerel as it is an associated species in a mixed fishery with herring. Furthermore, farmed salmon exports to the EU from the Faroe Islands must also be included as the salmon is fed with fish meal made from both herring and mackerel.”
In response to Mr. Gallagher’s forceful contribution, the Commissioner stated that she is in discussions with the new Government in Iceland and that she will proceed accordingly if the new administration is not prepared to engage constructively in finding a solution to the ongoing crisis.