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Real impact of international fishing dispute

January 22, 2013 2:27 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Shetland MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat fisheries spokesperson Tavish ScottTavish ScottTavish Scott has said that Faroe and Iceland's illegal mackerel fishery is hitting Scottish processing businesses.

The latest negotiations involving the EU and Norway collapsed this week allowing Faroe and Iceland to continue their illegal fishing of mackerel. A recognised accreditation has been withdrawn by the Marine Stewardship Council and they are declaring the fishery is "unsustainable". Tavish Scott has said that the EU has given up on demanding that the amount of mackerel caught in international waters must be determined by a negotiated agreement. The EU previously said that unless there was international agreement they would impose sanctions on Faroe and Iceland.

Commenting, Tavish Scott said:

"The EU appears to have caved in. Iceland and Faroe must be rubbing their hands in glee. Their overfishing of mackerel is illegal yet the EU is now washing its hands of any action. They should demonstrate some back bone and impose sanctions on Faroe and Iceland. If the illegal fishing is allowed to continue through 2013, local fishermen will question the point of the European Union. Our fishermen have to comply with international rules and are penalised if they do not yet others can ignore the need for agreement and fish illegally.

"The impact of this will hit fish processors who are important businesses for the local and national economy. Fish processors such as Shetland Catch based in Lerwick employ hundreds of people. Yet the Shetland Catch turnover has fallen from £71m in 2010/11 to £48M a year later. That is purely as a result of the mackerel market collapsing through oversupply of fish being caught by Faroe and Iceland. The business lost over £4m in the last financial year.

"The illegal catching of mackerel, the failure of the EU to impose sanctions and the withdrawal of an important status for sustainable caught fish will lead to harder financial times for the industry. The Scottish and UK Governments have worked hard to force sanctions in the absence of international agreement over the right mackerel quota. They must redouble their actions in the face of the EU's apparent cave-in."