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22 December 2010

Stevenson Welcomes EU Action Over Mackerel Dispute

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the news that European Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki will seek to ban Icelandic fishing vessels from landing their catch in EU ports at a meeting of the European Economic Area (EEA) to be held before January 14. The move follows unsuccessful attempts to resolve the current dispute over the massive mackerel quota that Iceland has unilaterally awarded itself. Norway has already taken action to close its ports to Icelandic and Faroese fishing vessels.

Mackerel is the Scottish fishing industry’s most profitable fish, and the Scottish fleet has won prestigious Marine Stewardship Certification for the sustainable way the fishery has been managed. However, that careful stock management and the profitability of the Scottish Pelagic fleet is at severe risk following the actions of Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The actions of Iceland and the Faroe Islands in this matter have been utterly unacceptable. Choosing to ignore international agreements and the interests of countries that have been fishing mackerel sustainably for years is little more than piracy.

“Closing the EU’s ports to mackerel caught by Icelandic vessels will not in itself solve the problem, but it does send the clearest possible message that the European Union will not stand for this behaviour.

“Clearly negotiations must continue, but it would be a disaster for Banff & Buchan if the Scottish pelagic fleet loses out as a result of the actions of Iceland and the Faroe Islands. I welcome the fact that the EU seems to recognise this and is moving towards meaningful sanctions.

“I can only hope that Iceland and the Faroe Islands will now recognise that their actions will not be tolerated and will finally see reason over the need to find an agreement which will not cause irreparable harm to the Scottish pelagic fleet and the sustainability of mackerel stocks.”
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