A fishing purse seiner. (Photo: Ingi Ragnarsson, adalsteinnjonsson.blog.is)
Scotland voices increasing frustration over mackerel dispute
Monday, October 01, 2012, 05:20 (GMT + 9)
The Scottish Fisheries Secretary is deeply frustrated that the continued overfishing of the mackerel stock by Iceland and the Faroes is likely to see a cut in the Scottish quota.
Annual advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) states that the recommended Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for mackerel should fall 15 per cent in 2013, to 542,000 tonnes, while recommending further reductions in overall catch in light of the irresponsible overfishing by Iceland and Faroes that has pushed catch levels above the scientific advice.
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
"For four years in a row now we have seen Iceland and the Faroes plundering the mackerel stock, setting their own vastly inflated quotas outwith an international agreement – and as a result putting the future of our own fleet at risk.
"While Europe has finally brought forward sanction provisions, the process has taken far too long and this worrying scientific advice shows that much damage to the mackerel stock has already been done. Therefore, it is infuriating and deeply frustrating that Scottish fishermen now face the prospect of reduced quotas.
"Talks resume next month for a new mackerel deal and I hope the Faroes and Iceland finally decide to enter in to reasonable negotiations. They must recognise that if they continue to ignore their responsibilities to sustainably manage the stock, it will ultimately lead to disaster for all those who rely on this valuable fishery.
"Scotland’s priority is to have all parties signed up to a new deal that will safeguard the future sustainability of the mackerel stock. Hopefully, the prospect of sanctions will help concentrate Icelandic and Faroese minds."
ICES advice on pelagic stocks was published this week.
In February protracted negotiations failed to secure a four-way Coastal States deal for 2012, leading to a third straight year without agreement. New mackerel talks for 2013 are set to commence in October.
Mackerel is Scotland’s most valuable stock, with landings worth GBP 164 million (EUR 206.3 million) in 2011.
Since 2010, the EU and Norway have had a bilateral mackerel agreement, following the failure of Coastal States negotiations with the Faroe Islands and Iceland.
Until 2009, the Faroes were part of a three-way agreement with the EU and Norway. In 2012 the Faroese declared themselves a quota more than five times their agreed share in 2009.
Iceland, who caught very little mackerel prior to 2008, have never been part of a Coastal States agreement and have significantly increased their mackerel catch in recent years.
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- Scotland once more prioritises mackerel dispute