NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Iceland mackerel access 'not ruled out' in dispute

Mackerel catch
Image caption Mackerel is the most valuable stock for the Scottish fleet

The European Fisheries commissioner has refused to rule out allowing Icelandic fishermen access to mackerel in Scottish waters for the first time.

Iceland - along with its Faroese neighbour - last year announced a sizeable quota increase.

Scottish fishermen claim any move allowing Iceland access would amount to rewarding irresponsible behaviour.

Commissioner Maria Damanaki told BBC Scotland that negotiations were ongoing.

The EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroes are currently trying to negotiate a way out of the so called "mackerel wars".

Asked whether she would rule out access to Scottish waters for the Icelandic fleet, the commissioner told BBC Scotland: "What we can do is stop imports if they are not fishing sustainably.

"The negotiations are now going on. As soon as we have any news we are going to inform you."

The increased quotas led to condemnation and claims that the long-term sustainability of the species would be damaged.

Mackerel is the most valuable stock for the Scottish fleet.

BBC Scotland told last month how patrols between Scotland and the Faroe Islands had been stepped up amid fears of illegal fishing.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "Although each year the various countries around the table put forward proposals as to who can fish what and where, our message to the EU, Norway and of course to Iceland and the Faroes is that irresponsible behaviour must not be rewarded.

"There is currently a more positive mood in the discussions but a deal is not yet close."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites