THE SCOTTISH Government is becoming increasingly frustrated by the continued over-fishing of the mackerel stock by Iceland and the Faroes.
- Scientific advice points to the need for a cut in quota
Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said the two countries had been plundering the mackerel stock for four years now, and the Scottish quota could now be cut as a result.
Mackerel is Scotlands most valuable stock, with landings worth £164 million in 2011.
Annual advice from ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Seas) states that the recommended Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for mackerel should fall 15% in 2013 to 542,000 tonnes. It also advised further reductions in overall catch in light of the irresponsible over-fishing by Iceland and Faroes that has pushed catch levels above those recommended by scientists.
In April, the Marine Stewardship Council suspended certification of North East Atlantic Mackerel because of over-fishing in the region by countries outside certified fleets.
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, said Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead.
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 this month for a new mackerel deal and Lochhead urged the Faroes and Iceland 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, he added.
Scotlands priority is to have all parties signed up to a new deal that will safeguard the future sustainability of the mackerel stock.