NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Fishermen meet over mackerel row

Image caption Mackerel is the most valuable stock to Scotland's fishing fleet

Scottish fishing leaders have met EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki.

They are demanding tough action over Iceland and the Faroe Islands raising their catches of mackerel.

Ian Gatt, of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association, said the commissioner reacted "positively" to its action plan.

He said he hoped the measures would be adopted to stop the "reckless and irresponsible behaviour" by Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

Mr Gatt said that since 2006 the Faroe Islands and Iceland had increased their share in the mackerel fisheries from 5% to 46% of the total allowable catch.

He said that the mackerel stock was very healthy but this "continuous plundering" would affect it.

Among the measures in the action plan was an import ban of all fish products from Iceland and Faroe Islands.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "The Scottish Government and Scottish fishermen both agree that action must be taken by the European Commission protect the mackerel stock, which is being plundered recklessly and without rebuke by the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

"Following on from my meeting with Ms Damanaki earlier this month - where I raised many of the same concerns - I'm pleased that the Scottish industry have met with the commissioner today."

Mr Lochhead added: "I am pushing the commission hard for an early date for an International Ministerial Summit in a neutral country, which is crucial for moving the situation forward.

"However, if Iceland and the Faroes continue to irresponsibly overfish the mackerel stock then the commission must put in place meaningful sanctions as soon as possible."

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