Iceland: Accession talks – and fishing row – with Brussels begin

10 August 2010 – Presseurop EUobserver.com

It's been a cold few years for Iceland's economy but warmer seas have boosted fish stocks, something that could present a political problem for the North Atlantic island nation. "Brussels has warned it could block access for Icelandic and Faroe Islands fishermen to EU waters if they do not back down on plans to boost their mackerel catch," reports theEUObserver. Europe's mackerel have been enticed out of EU waters and into those of Iceland (and Danish territory, the Faroes) by higher temperatures. As a result, both countries have raised their quotas, something that has not pleased Brussels. Fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki warned on Monday August 9 of the EU's "grave concern" at the "unilateral" and "surprise" move, after the Faroe Islands extended its catch limits the same day, according to the web news service. The timing couldn't be worse: "EU membership talks with Iceland began on 27 July with fisheries expected to be one of the thorniest issues on the table."

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