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Norway's Mackerel Quota Unfilled as Fish Swim Off

EU - The Norwegian government is seeking urgent talks with EU fishing leaders now that huge mackerel shoals have crossed into UK waters and are now mainly swimming around Shetland.

Shetland Marine News reports that the Norwegian pelagic fleet is thought to still have around 60,000 tonnes of mackerel quota to fish, but are prevented from doing so now the fish have left their national boundary.

The issue is due to be debated in the margins of the scheduled meeting of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), held in London on 7 October.

The development is being followed with interest by the local fishing industry in Shetland, which is enjoying the fact that the tables have been turned on their Norwegian counterparts.

Industry insiders said that Norwegians have always charged 'robustly' for allowing EU boats to fish their waters, and the EU should now do likewise.

Scotland pays around 25 per cent of its quota for Atlanto-Scandian herring to fish the species in Norwegian waters.

A Scottish fisheries protection vessel, meanwhile, is keeping a watchful eye on Norwegian vessels fishing close to the border between both countries, amid reports that Norwegian boats have been blocked from EU waters.

On 6 October, Shetland Fishermen's Association chief executive, Hansen Black, said the industry would be looking for Norway to pay a fair price to gain access to EU fishing grounds.

He said: "The Norwegian fishery is now closed with a large amount of mackerel still to be caught.

"It clearly is causing difficulty for the Norwegian industry if the fish don't happen to be in Norwegian waters.

"It is a complete reversal to where we have been in the past. At the moment our line would be that rules are rules and they need to be adhered to.

"Norway has been very quick to point the finger at the Scottish fleet about certain misdemeanours, and it is clear that they are struggling at the moment to adhere to the rules and they have come running to the commission looking for talks," he said.

Shetland Marine News reports that a spokesman for the Scottish government said: "We are keen to see responsible fishing and compliance with the rules across the whole of Europe – and not just Scotland.

"This is an example of the level playing field we strive for where controls and the subsequent actions are applied regardless of nationality. Robust monitoring to ensure sustainable fishing is taking place in one of our most valuable and highly prized stocks."

the Fish Site Editor

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