Iceland is claiming that some of the mackerel caught around its shores has a different genetic footprint to the general European stock which is at the centre of a major dispute with the European Union and Norway.
Morgunbladid, the country's main daily newspaper, reports that the Icelandic Food and Vetinary Authority is currently analysing samples of mackerel caught in the west of the island and is being compared with fish caught in the south and east and from around the Faroe islands.
Iceland is claiming that if the case is proved and there is a marked difference then this so-called new stock would be exempt from any quota agreement with the EU and Norway. Such an argument may not be accepted in either Oslo or Brussels, however.
Meanwhile, Iceland has been shrugging off threats of possible European Union sanctions against its fish exports because of its stand over mackerel quotas.
Last month Scottish fishing leaders welcomed European sanctions being agreed against the Faroe Islands and Iceland amid concerns over mackerel catches. A package of measures has now been agreed including restrictions of mackerel landings in EU ports.
Sigurgeir Thorgeirsson, Iceland's† Director of Fisheries, told Morgunbladid recently: "I think it unlikely that the EU will apply tougher penalties because of their international obligations."
Friūrik† ArngrŪmsson, chief executive of the Iceland Fishing Vessel Owners Federation (LIU), said he did not think the EU threat would affect how Iceland managed its mackerel quotas. He said any ban would be contrary to European free trade agreements and the rules of the World Trade Organisation.
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