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Government Supports EC Mackerel Statement

SCOTLAND - The European Commission's statement on the ongoing mackerel dispute in the North Atlantic was welcomed by Scottish Fisheries Secretary, Richard Lochhead, who has been urging for action to be taken.

Mr Lochhead said: "I welcome the joint statement from the EU and Norway, which echoes what I have repeatedly been calling for; that action is needed to address the irresponsible and damaging overfishing of the mackerel stock."

"Once again, I raised this with Commissioner Damanaki when I met with her earlier this month."

"The excessive mackerel quota declared by the Faroes is so large that their own fleet don't even have the capacity to meet it, so they are allowing large foreign-owned vessels to operate in Faroese waters. I'm pleased that the Commission and Norway share my concerns over this worrying development."

"The statement speaks of "cooperating closely" with an intent to "coordinate our actions". While this language is encouraging, what we need is action now if we are to safeguard the valuable mackerel fishery, which is being reckless plundered by Iceland and the Faroes."

"To move the situation forward it's crucial that we get an early date for the International Ministerial Summit in a neutral country, which I have called on the Commission to instigate."

"If the mackerel fishery continues to be overfished by Iceland and the Faroe Islands, meaningful sanctions must be implemented by the Commission as soon as possible," concluded Mr Lochhead.

For 2011 the Faroe Islands have unilaterally set themselves a of mackerel catch of 150,000 tonnes, up 75 per cent on 2010 and more than five times their internationally agreed share in 2009. Iceland, who caught very little mackerel prior to 2008, set their own increased catch of around 147,000 tonnes earlier this year.

Figures for 2010 indicate that the value of mackerel to the Scottish economy was £109 million - the fleet's most valuable stock.

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the Fish Site Editor

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