Fishermen welcome move

Scottish fishermen have welcomed the decision this at the European Fish Council in Luxembourg to give the fishing fleet the facility to bank up to 25 percent of this year’s mackerel quota so as to mitigate the impact of Russian trade sanctions.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We commend the European Commission and the Council for acting on this quickly following the request made by Scottish and UK governments.

“It is still too early to assess what the impact of the Russian trade sanctions will be on the Scottish mackerel sector.

“The fishing season has started and the fish is selling on the international markets.

“But it is important that we have flexibility through the facility to bank and carry forward some of the 2014 quota into next year should it be required.

“Hopefully we won’t need to use this option, but it is vital that the banking facility is in place as we don’t want to be in a situation where cold stores are full and our boats are catching excellent quality fish that ends up for fishmeal.

“If that scenario happens, then by far the best option is to leave the fish swimming in their own environment where they will continue to grow and contribute to the stock biomass by spawning, and which comes at zero cost.

“This would buy time for the processing sector to pursue additional markets before the mackerel season begins next year.

“Scientists have confirmed that banking this level of quota will not be detrimental to the stock in the medium to long term.”

Commenting on the move, Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead said: “I am delighted that Commissioner Damanaki recommended an increase to allow some of this year’s quota for certain stocks to be banked and that Council agreed to a 25 percent increase this evening.”