Fisheries Minister urges haste on mackerel issue

The EU must act now to put in place sanctions they have been promising since last year to address Iceland and Faroes’ irresponsible and unsustainable mackerel fishing, Scotland’s fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead said today.

Mr Lochhead was speaking ahead of today’s (Tuesday) Agrifish Council in Luxembourg which he will be attending and where the mackerel issue is on the agenda.

He said: “Disregard for conservation cannot be allowed to threaten the sustainability of Scotland’s most valuable catch.  The EU must act now.

“I have been pressing the Commission to apply sanctions since last summer, but the onset of the mackerel fishing season means there is now an urgent need to apply these measures without delay.

“These sanctions need to happen alongside continuation of talks to put in place a new international agreement for the mackerel stock. However, an agreement cannot come at any cost and we will give in to the bullying behaviour of Iceland and Faroes. 

“In the meantime, monitoring the line between Scottish and Faroese waters is vital to safeguard our mackerel stocks. In the absence of an access agreement, the Faroese pelagic fleet cannot fish in EU waters and it is important that we do not allow them to plunder our waters as part of their outrageous mackerel grab. Sanctions will be a vital tool in stopping Faroes having any reason to access EU waters and we urge the Commissioner to act now to protect this vital stock.”