Icelandic fishing says that there are now catchable quantities of mackerel in their own jurisdiction following allegations of stock shortages EU Iceland Irish waters access

Ireland in in danger of seeing more fish being traded away from Irish waters by the EU as it undertakes talks with Iceland over access to the Irish EEZ. Photo: Síldarvinnslan

Irish Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority 2023

Irish Industry in Danger of Seeing Fish Traded Away by European Union for Iceland Deal

Iceland has initiated informal discussions with the EU to explore the possibility of allowing Icelandic fishing vessels into Irish waters.

The discussions, disclosed by industry representatives at Thursday’s meeting (26 October), have raised concerns within the Irish fishing community.

Officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Ireland have reportedly been in discussions with various EU member states to determine whether Iceland should be granted access to EU waters. The talks are a part of Iceland’s efforts to expand its fishing territory and strengthen its fishing industry.

The discussions centre around reviving elements of a 1992 trade agreement, with the Irish Examiner revealing that an Icelandic delegation met with EU officials to discuss this matter. Additionally, conversations that began in February between European and Icelandic fishing bodies have explored the potential for Iceland’s participation in an agreement related to the European Economic Area. This agreement was initially signed in Oporto, Portugal, in 1992.

The Oporto agreement had been active before Iceland applied to join the EU in 2009. However, the negotiations were put on hold along with Iceland’s accession talks, creating an opportunity for Iceland to revisit the agreement.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD briefed Iirish fishing industry representatives about these informal discussions during a virtual meeting on Friday 27 October. The meeting aimed to address “developments at the EU level regarding potential discussions between the EU and Iceland on fishing opportunities.”

Although some details concerning Iceland’s requests under a potential EU deal were discussed at the meeting, attendees were requested not to disclose specific figures.

If an agreement were to be reached with Iceland, it could grant Iceland access to EU waters in general, including Ireland’s waters, known for their abundance of mackerel. Currently, large Icelandic fishing vessels are already fishing for mackerel close to their territorial water border with Ireland.

Minister Charlie McConalogue is expected to travel to Europe to relay Ireland’s fishing industry’s viewpoint on Iceland’s approach to the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius. The potential access to Irish waters by Icelandic fishing vessels remains a topic of concern and debate in Ireland, especially within the fishing community.

eu losing fishing rights

Brendan Byrne – IFPEA (left) and Aodh O’Donnell – IFPO (right)

IFPEA Express Apprehension Over Possible Deal

The talks between Iceland and the EU have seen Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) |Chief, Brendan Byrne express apprehension over a potential deal. Speaking to The Fishing Daily, Byrne said:

“The IFPEA are seriously concerned that once again the EU are failing to understand the Irish fishing industry, time and time again our EU colleagues trade off on Irish-EU waters to benefit themselves at the expense of the Irish fishing industry. The CFP must not just favour one or two of the larger EU fishing member states or companies while other member states see their fishing industry fail.

“Iceland can only be considered when the new access arrangements deliver for Ireland when we are assured that a fit for purpose control and enforcement regime exists to monitor the catching levels and that no factory ships or processing sea vessels will be permitted into these waters.”

Byrne states that a higher level of information sharing needs to exist before this can be considered further.

“The EU must realise that Ireland as members of the Union have rights greater than any third country. This is something they have failed to appreciate as part of the Norwegian EU deal.

“The Irish government must view this request from the EU as a matter of the highest national importance and one for all of Government,” concluded Brendan Byrne.


IFPO Concerned Over Iceland and Animal Feed Processing

Irish Fish Producers Organisation CEO, Aodh O’Donnell told The Fishing Daily, that high value mackerel from Irish waters should be used for human consumption in Ireland not as an animal feed in other countries. He said, “That is a message from the Irish Fishing Industry ahead of the EU’s fishing quota negotiations beginning this week.”


by Oliver McBride

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