Mackerel: No immediate action agreed

29 Jun 2011
Maria Damanaki has said she will bring through proposals for trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes in October

Maria Damanaki has said she will bring through proposals for trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes in October

The European Commission have once again promised action over mackerel, but not quickly enough, Scotland's Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead has warned.

Mr Lochhead was speaking immediately after Tuesday's EU AgriFish Council in Luxembourg, where mackerel was on the agenda - but yet again no immediate action was agreed. The European Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, has said she will bring through proposals for trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes in October.

To try and make some headway on the issue Mr Lochhead had met earlier with UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon, where he proposed a three point plan to tackles the problem on all fronts and which Mr Benyon agreed to.

The three point plan is:

  1. An International Ministerial Summit in a neutral country to ensure talks with all countries involved in the mackerel fishery continue
  2. Investigate the feasibility of taking the case to the International Tribunal For The Law of The Seas
  3. Continue to push for EU sanctions as quickly as possible

Mr Lochhead said:

"While the EU is navel gazing and caught up in process, Scotland's most valuable catch is being plundered recklessly and without rebuke by the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

"Commissioner Damanaki has helpfully stated her serious intent on taking effective action in October, but this situation is being allowed to continue for yet another mackerel fishing season.

"The EU is not slow in taking action against European fishermen who break regulations, but is in danger of failing to protect its own fishermen against the bullying and irresponsible behaviour of Iceland and the Faroes.

"We have always said we would rather sanctions were not necessary and we will continue to do all we can to try and make some headway to address this issue ourselves. This morning I met with Richard Benyon to discuss what action we might take. I will be pushing hard to get an early date for an International Ministerial Summit in a neutral country, as I think that it is crucial for moving things forward.

"If we need to we will also push for the EU to look at the feasibility of taking the matter to the International Tribunal, as well as keeping pressure on them to deliver the long talked about sanctions we desperately need."

For 2011 the Faroe Islands have set themselves a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of mackerel of 150,000t, up 75% on 2010 and more than five times their agreed share in 2009, when they were part of an international trilateral mackerel agreement with the EU and Norway. Iceland, who caught very little mackerel prior to 2008, set their own increased TAC of around 147,000t earlier this year.

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