SNP’s Lochhead welcomes EU mackerel action

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The European Fisheries Commissioner to seek action that could lead to an EU-wide ban on Icelandic and Faroese mackerel.

Both Iceland and the Faroes have walked away from recent talks with the EU and Norway on a new international deal that would help safeguard the future of the mackerel fishery.

With the December EU Fisheries Council underway yesterday, Commissioner Maria Damanaki told Member States she was consulting with colleagues on how restrictions on landings of Icelandic mackerel in EU ports could be applied. The Commissioner also said that she would push for new regulations that could result in a ban on fish imports from any state acting outwith international fishery agreements, such as the Faroe Islands.

Speaking from Brussels, Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“We were extremely frustrated by last week’s breakdown in mackerel talks. Once again we face the prospect of Iceland and the Faroes setting their own inflated unilateral quotas next year, which don’t adhere to scientific advice and are motivated by short-term gain.

“We need Iceland and the Faroes to be willing to negotiate reasonably. Salt is rubbed in to the wound by the fact the Faroes have gone ahead with a back-hand deal to sell their mackerel quota to Russia.

“That’s why I am pleased that Commissioner Damanaki has confirmed she will endeavour to take strong action and put in place the necessary tools to apply meaningful sanctions. We cannot reward reckless behaviour and I urge the EU to translate the Commissioner’s words into decisive action.

“Last year total landings of North Atlantic Mackerel were worth in excess of £500 million – and in Scotland mackerel directly supports around 2,500 jobs. The valuable mackerel stock has been sustainably managed for the past 10 years by Scottish fishermen, as well as others across the EU and Norway. Firm action is needed or the irresponsible practices of Iceland and the Faroes may lead to the demise of the fishery.”