Several European Union countries recently asked the European Commission to consider sanctions against Iceland for allegedly exceeding its fishing quota for mackerel. In an email interview, Eirikur Bergmann, an associate professor of political science at Bifrost University in Iceland, discussed the mackerel dispute between the EU and Iceland.
WPR: What is the background of the current fishing dispute between Iceland and the European Union?
Eirikur Bergmann: Backed by France, Portugal, Ireland and Spain, the European Union is considering sanctions against Iceland and the Faroe Islands for overfishing of mackerel, a pelagic fish stock in the North Atlantic. Mackerel has an extensive migration pattern, reaching into the exclusive economic zones of a number of countries. In recent years this pattern has changed, with 23 percent of the stock migrating into the Icelandic exclusive economic zone in 2010 and 2011, where its population grows by around 60 percent each year. Recognized coastal states with legitimate interest in the mackerel stock are the European Union member states mentioned above, Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands.