Ireland is strongly against a plan from the European Commission on mackerel fishing, which aims to end a row between the EU, the Faroe Islands in the northeast Atlantic and Iceland.

At a meeting of fisheries ministers in Luxembourg today, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD said the current plan was “not acceptable” to Ireland. The meeting discussed the current dispute over mackerel quota rights in the North East Atlantic, in that Iceland and the Faroe Islands have increased their overall share of mackerel from five per cent in 2005 to 52 per cent in 2013.

Minister Coveney argued that giving Iceland and the Faroe Islands a larger quota than Ireland was not fair or justifiable. In a statement afterwards he said: “I outlined today to the key players what I consider must be the fundamental principles for any agreement with Iceland. Any new offer to Iceland must be jointly agreed with Norway on the basis of equal burden sharing. Iceland must not be granted access to EU waters as a part of any deal. Critically, I made it clear that while any deal should provide a fair and justifiable quota share for Iceland, it must also protect the interests of EU member states such as Ireland who have relied on this fishery for more than 40 years.”

The minister also met with the key ministers from other member states including Minister Canete from Spain, the new UK Minister, George Eustice and the Scottish Minister, Richard Lochead, and pressed Ireland’s position.

Negotiations are due to take place in London next week between the EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faeroes on possible future sharing arrangements’ for the mackerel stock in the North East Atlantic. In advance of those negotiations, Minister Coveney asked that the issue be discussed by the full Council of Fisheries Ministers. He also sought a meeting with Commissioner Damanaki to outline his concerns that “any solution to this long-running issue must be fair and balanced and not discriminate against the Irish fishing industry”.

“Ireland will participate fully in the important negotiations next week in London and will do all that we can to ensure that any agreement is balanced and equitable and protects the interests of EU Member States such as Ireland who have such a strong reliance on the mackerel stock,” he concluded.