Mackerel stocks 'in good health' say Scottish fishing leaders

Newly-released scientific evidence shows mackerel stocks in the north east Atlantic are in "good health", Scottish fishing leaders have said.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea has recommended an increase in quotas of more than 60% for 2014.

The Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association (SPFA) welcomed the news.

Scientists said analysis had been hampered by the wrangle with Iceland and the Faroe Islands over quotas.

SPFA chief executive Ian Gatt said: "The scientific advice confirms what Scottish fishermen have repeatedly been saying, that the stock remains in good health and that consumers can continue to eat Scottish mackerel safe in the knowledge that the fish are abundant in the sea and being sustainably caught by our fishermen."

'Work hard'

He said he hoped a resolution with Iceland and the Faroes could be reached over disputed quota levels.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "The increase in quota advised for 2014 is tremendous news for the Scottish fishing industry.

"Mackerel is our most valuable stock, worth £131m to the Scottish economy last year."

He added: "This scientific advice also provides a fresh opportunity to try and resolve the ongoing dispute with Iceland and the Faroes."

Iceland's Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, said: "With our focus on sustainable fisheries, Iceland will continue to work hard for an agreement between the coastal states in order to secure sustainable management of the mackerel stock."

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