Musings, politics and environmental issues

Archive for July, 2013

The mackerel dispute and whales

Iceland and the Faroe islands have been at loggerheads with the EU and Norway for the last three years over mackerel. Iceland says there is an abundance of mackerel around Iceland and that Icelanders should be allowed to catch much more of it than the EU wants Iceland to fish.

Mackerel has been moving north over the last decade due to changes in sea temperature from global warming. But other European countries are adamantly refusing to alter quotas that are supposed to be jointly decided by the EU, Faroes, Norway and Iceland. Some countries have banned the unloading of mackerel from Iceland and the European Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, has not ruled out trade sanctions against Iceland.

Various Icelandic government ministers have been talking to top EU officials about the mackerel issue, but to no avail. And now the Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, has said that there may not be any point holding a referendum about continuing EU negotiations while the mackerel dispute remains unsolved.

Which is ridiculous really. For instance, the whaling issue remains unresolved too – the arguments about that are actually quite similar to those of mackerel fishing. But nobody has mentioned whaling as a reason to postpone the EU referendum or further negotiations with the EU.

The latest whaling fiasco

Six containers of fin whale meat destined for Japan are on their way back to Iceland. They were off-loaded in Hamburg on 5 July for inspection and by the time they were ready to go back onto the ship it had already left. Now the whale meat is on its way back to Iceland with the Icelandic company Samskip, which has been freighting whale meat to Europe. Samskip has said that it will not transport any more whale meat to Europe in the future, and whale meat will not go through German ports in future.

Apparently there were problems with labelling of the meat. Some of it had been labelled as frozen fish and some had been labelled as “Frozen Edible Produce (Balaenoptera Physalus)”. The Latin name is the species name of fin whales.

The farce goes on.