Lochhead condemns Iceland mackerel quotas

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Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead has condemned the decision by Iceland to once again set a unilateral mackerel quota, increasing the catch proposals for 2011 by 17,000 tonnes to 147,000 tonnes.

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

Mr Lochhead said:

“Given Iceland’s actions in walking away from the international mackerel negotiations last month, it is sadly no great surprise that they have followed this up with these irresponsible actions in unilaterally increasing their mackerel quota for next year. They are not adhering to scientific advice and are totally motivated by short-term gain.

“This decision by Iceland to not only repeat their moves for 2010 in setting a massive unilateral quota but to increase if even further, represents a flagrant disregard for fisheries conservation and international opinion.

“It is now more important than ever that the international community stands together and takes strong action before it is too late for one of Europe’s biggest and most valuable stocks. We have a commitment from the EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki to take strong action against Iceland – and the Faroes – and put in place the necessary tools to apply meaningful sanctions.

“The valuable mackerel fishery – worth £135m to the Scottish economy in 2009 – has been sustainably managed for the past 10 years by Scottish fishermen, as well as others across the EU and Norway. Firm action is vital or the irresponsible practices of Iceland may lead to the demise of this fishery.”