Fishing leaders ‘disappointed’ after mackerel talks

Scottish fishing leaders have said they are disappointed that fresh discussions led to no agreement to end the long-running dispute over mackerel quotas.

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Mackerel has been at the centre of an international dispute over quotas

The EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroes were all represented at the talks.

The island nations have been criticised for declaring huge catches of the valuable fish in recent years, leading to fears for its sustainability.

The Scottish Pelagic Fishermens’ Association (SPFA) said Europe must now implement sanctions.

EU Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, was meeting with fisheries ministers from Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

SPFA chief executive, Ian Gatt, said:

“We are disappointed that there was no breakthrough.

“If it is not possible to reach agreement at this high level, then one has to question whether there is any hope at all for the next round of talks scheduled for October.

“This makes it even more important than ever that the European Parliament ratifies sanction measures against Iceland and the Faroes this month, and that the EU wastes no time in immediately implementing them.”

‘Sensible deal’
Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said the outcome of the latest talks was “disappointing but sadly predictable”.

He added:

“Recent years show that Iceland and the Faroes have a track-record in demonstrating a lack of willingness to compromise and reach a fair deal for mackerel.

“By initiating these talks, Commissioner Damanaki has demonstrated her personal resolve to finding a solution that will see a sensible deal in place to safeguard the mackerel stock. However, once again diplomacy has failed.

“It’s unacceptable for any state to compromise the sustainability of a shared fishery by setting hugely inflated quotas. And if we continue to see self-interest and stubbornness as the hallmark of the Iceland and Faroese stances then we need the EU to be equipped to take meaningful action.”

Mackerel is the most valuable stock for the Scottish fleet.

Landings of the fish were worth £164m in 2011 – about a third of the Scottish total.

Story Reported by BBC 

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Supermarkets ban sale of Scottish mackerel

THREE of Scotland’s biggest supermarket chains have banned Scottish mackerel from shop shelves.

Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and The Co-Op say they will not buy the fish while its environmental certification has been suspended.

The suspension follows a dispute with Iceland and Faroe Islands who breached mackerel fishing quotas in the northeast Atlantic. Overfishing by the two countries meant quotas were exceeded by 25% in the past two years.

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Mackerel fishing is worth £160million a year to the Scottish economy.

As a result the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) which certifies that fishing is sustainable, suspended certification of the entire mackerel fishery.

By far the country’s most valuable catch, Scottish fisherman landed around 146,000 tonnes of Mackerel, worth £163million, last year.

The industry is worth £160million a year to Scotland’s economy.

Fishing industry experts said they would be “extremely disappointed” if supermarkets abandoned selling Scottish mackerel.

A spokeswoman for Sainsbury’s said:

“In light of the MSC’s decision to remove certification, and in line with our own sustainable sourcing policies, we have taken the decision to stop sourcing from the affected fisheries pending an agreement between the parties involved.”

Marks & Spencer said it would not buy Scottish mackerel unless it was certified by the MSC.

A spokeswoman added:

“Ensuring all of the fish we sell is from sustainable sources is at the heart of our business.”

The Co-Op said it was “working with our suppliers to find alternative sources.”

Tesco, Aldi, Waitrose and Morrisons said they had no plans to stop selling Scottish mackerel.

Labour Shadow environment secretary, Claire Baker, said supermarket confusion was unfair on consumers.

She said: “Many will feel caught between wanting to do the right thing in terms of sustainability and supporting the Scottish fishing fleet, which has done nothing wrong.”

She said the Scottish Government had a “woeful” lack of engagement with supermarkets and called on ministers to “urgently” engage with retailers in Scotland to make sure consumers and the mackerel fishing fleet can come through this difficult time as painlessly as possible.”

Fisheries Secretary, Richard Lochhead, said he did not need a lecture on how to talk to supermarkets.

He said:

“I have personally raised my concerns over their sourcing of seafood on many occasions.

“Scotland’s priority is to have an international deal in place between all parties that protects the sustainability of the mackerel stock – but not at any price.”

Ian Gatt, the chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said it would be unfair to penalise Scottish fishing boats for a problem they did not cause.

He said:

“I’d be extremely disappointed if consumers in Scotland can’t buy Scottish mackerel.

“The stocks are still high enough for supermarkets to put Scottish mackerel on their shelves.”

Scots fishermen welcome agreement on fisheries sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes

Scottish fishermen have welcomed the news that the European Parliament and the Danish Presidency have agreed a comprehensive sanctions package against countries and territories engaged in unsustainable fishing practices.

Mackerel

The agreement now paves the way for the implementation of trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes in response to the massive autonomous quotas they have set for mackerel that are not part of any responsible international fisheries management arrangements.

The broad ranging sanction measures agreed means the EU is now in the position to apply “quantitative restrictions” on the imports into the EU of Icelandic or Faroese caught mackerel, which would also have the scope to cover other fish species associated with the fishery.  There is a broad definition to these ‘associated species’, so in effect it could cover a wide range of fishery products.

Other sanction measures agreed include restrictions on the use of EU ports by vessels flying the flag of the country or territory deemed to be over-fishing, and restrictions on boats transporting fish and fishery products from the stock of common interest and associated species. There is also scope to further tighten the sanction measures if it is deemed that the initial measures are proving ineffective.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said:

“We have been calling for these sanction measures for a long time and we are delighted at this sanctions package. The two most important elements are for the sanction measures to be meaningful, which is clearly the case here, and the second is the timing of implementation so as to ensure that these measures are in place prior to the commencement of the October negotiations.

“Hopefully these measures will make Iceland and the Faroes realise that their unsustainable fishing practices will not be tolerated by the responsible international fisheries community. It is vital that both these countries now come back to the negotiating table and reach a sensible international management arrangement for the precious mackerel stock that will ensure a sustainable future for the fishery.

“The Scottish fishing industry would in particular like to thank the important role played by Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP for helping broker this sanctions agreement.”

Iceland has unilaterally increased its mackerel catch from only 363 tonnes in 2005 to 147,000 tonnes in 2012. The Faroese autonomous quota has soared from 27,830 tonnes in 2009 to 149,000 tonnes in 2012.