Mr Armstrong, said: “The first rounds in the annual process of setting fishing opportunity are well underway and last Friday the allowable catch for mackerel – a stock vital to the Scottish industry - was set for 2009 at a level 33% above that permitted last year.
"The North East Atlantic mackerel stock is in excellent health and at first glance this appears like good news. "
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation
“The North East Atlantic mackerel stock is in excellent health and at first glance this appears like good news. Actually, the long term view taken by the Scottish industry was that 25% would have been the correct increase, aimed at stability of catching opportunity and avoiding ‘boom and bust’. This view was reached after a year of hard work by the Pelagic Regional Advisory Council – the principal stakeholder group – and ICES scientists.
“The negotiations over the two days leading to the agreement were characterised by Norway – a nation that is keen always to portray itself as the guardian of moderation – chasing advantage for itself at every turn. Many would contend that this is the approach taken by every nation during quota negotiations, but in Scotland we can rightly claim to take a longer and more sensible view.
“The best interests of everyone are served by realistically moderate fishing and a consistent approach to negotiations for catches. In the series of talks held so far this year, Norway has demonstrated that in each individual negotiation, stock stability and a consistent approach will take second place to Norway’s personal aims. We are well warned for the rest of the process, starting again today (3 November,) with the first round of the EU/Norway talks to set 2009 catches for the seven vital stocks which are jointly managed with Norway.”
Scotland is a primary player in the mackerel fishery, with 50% of the EU quota being allocated to Scotland.