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Mackerel Dispute section

Agreement reached on mackerel quotas

21/11/2014

Agreement has been reached on catching opportunities for north-east Atlantic mackerel for 2015 following negotiations between the EU, Norway and the Faroes.

Under the agreement, which follows scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea that is underpinned by the precautionary principle, a total allowable catch of 1,054,000 tonnes has been set, which will give the UK a quota of 245,363 tonnes.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We welcome that agreement has been reached at this stage in the negotiating process as it brings stability and certainty for the 2015 fishery. A new long-term management plan is also being worked upon for the mackerel stock and Scottish pelagic fishermen are committed to being closely involved in the development process.”

Scottish pelagic fishermen welcome agreement to ‘bank’ mackerel quota

13/10/2014

Scottish fishermen have welcomed the decision this evening (13 October) at the European Fish Council in Luxembourg to give the fishing fleet the facility to bank up to 25 per cent of this year’s mackerel quota so as to mitigate the impact of Russian trade sanctions.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We commend the European Commission and the Council for acting on this quickly following the request made by Scottish and UK governments. It is still too early to assess what the impact of the Russian trade sanctions will be on the Scottish mackerel sector. The fishing season has started and the fish is selling on the international markets.

“But it is important that we have flexibility through the facility to bank and carry forward some of the 2014 quota into next year should it be required. Hopefully we won’t need to use this option, but it is vital that the banking facility is in place as we don’t want to be in a situation where cold stores are full and our boats are catching excellent quality fish that ends up for fishmeal.

“If that scenario happens, then by far the best option is to leave the fish swimming in their own environment where they will continue to grow and contribute to the stock biomass by spawning, and which comes at zero cost. This would buy time for the processing sector to pursue additional markets before the mackerel season begins next year. Scientists have confirmed that banking this level of quota will not be detrimental to the stock in the medium to long term.”

 

Mixed bag for Scottish fishermen as EU/Faroes fishery access deal is signed

13/03/2014

It was a mixed bag of news for Scotland’s fishermen following the signing tonight (13 March) of an EU/Faroes agreement on swaps of fish and access arrangements to each other’s waters.

For whitefish fishermen, it means that for the first time in four years Scottish boats will now be able to fish within Faroese waters. Access had been denied in recent years because of the mackerel dispute with the Faroese, but this issue was resolved yesterday (12 March) after protracted negotiations.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive for the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “This is good news for our whitefish fishermen, particularly for the larger Scottish boats that have been denied access through no fault of their own to their traditional fishery in Faroese waters. This lack of access had been caused by the Faroese over-catching of mackerel, which was resolved in a painful compromise deal yesterday.”

Under tonight’s agreement, the catching opportunity offered to the Faroes includes 15,000 tonnes of blue whiting and in return the Scottish fleet will benefit from some 2,000 tonnes of whitefish, including cod, haddock and saithe.

Mr Armstrong added: “Access to Faroese waters will open on 1 April and the reciprocal opening of EU waters to the Faroes will demand a robust enforcement regime to ensure compliance.”

For the Scots pelagic sector, there was severe disappointment over the new deal, given that it would allow the Faroese to catch a much higher tonnage of their own allocated mackerel quota in Scottish waters than before. However, the Scottish sector was pleased that neither West of Scotland herring nor mackerel was used as part of the exchange of quotas.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association said: “We are bitterly disappointed that the Faroes has received access to fish 29% of their own mackerel quota in Scottish waters, which equates to a much higher tonnage than under the previous arrangement. Our industry is calling upon the Scottish Government to introduce a robust control and compliance regime that ensures that this access provision is not abused in any way.”

 

Significant breakthrough as trilateral agreement is reached on mackerel allocations for north-east Atlantic

12/03/2014

A trilateral agreement between the EU, Norway and the Faroes on mackerel share allocations for the north-east Atlantic have been agreed at talks in London that concluded this evening (12 March).

Whilst Iceland - the other main player - will not form part of this particular agreement, the door has been left open for them to join in the future once their internal issues with Greenland over mackerel are resolved. This new three-party agreement between the EU, Norway and the Faroes is seen as a significant breakthrough.

The compromise on shares means the Faroe Islands will receive 12.6% of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC), 15.6% has been set aside for Icelandic and Russian catches, with the EU and Norway sharing the remaining 71.8% on the basis of their current bilateral quota share agreement. This new international agreement with the Faroes will last for five years. Access arrangements for the Faroe Islands into EU waters (and vice versa) will be negotiated at the EU/Faroe Islands talks which begin tomorrow. Iceland will not have an access arrangement to fish any of their quota in EU waters.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association said: “There were no winners in this deal with sacrifices and concessions being made by all sides, not least by the Scottish and UK industries which will have a lower overall mackerel share allocation as a result.

“Whilst we believe the shares awarded to the Faroe Islands are too high, there are positive aspects to the deal. The big prize is certainly capturing an international fisheries agreement for the north-east Atlantic’s most important stock.

“It is highly significant that an important element of this long-standing dispute has finally been resolved as it will go a long way in ensuring that the fishery can be regulated and carefully managed again. This will benefit the mackerel stock and bring to an end the considerable uncertainty hanging over our pelagic fishing fleet and the onshore processing sector, both of which make a significant contribution to our economy. The UK mackerel sector can now plan ahead with greater confidence.

“According to the science, the mackerel stock is in a healthy state, and whilst our overall share allocation is lower we will have more fish to catch because of the increased overall quota. The burden of sharing between the EU and Norway has also been maintained. The Faroe Islands will negotiate access to Scottish waters for a percentage of their mackerel allocation but this must be set at a reasonable level based on their traditional access share.

“The deal also leaves the provision for Iceland to become part of the new agreement, once issues concerning a new autonomous quota for mackerel set by Greenland have been resolved.”

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “This deal has now led to the signing of an agreement between the EU and Norway on North Sea quota share arrangements for vitally important whitefish stocks such as cod, haddock, whiting and saithe, with access for Scottish boats into Norwegian waters now coming into operation with immediate effect.

“It also brings forward the likelihood of Scottish whitefish boats gaining access to Faroese waters, which has been denied to them for the past four years because of the mackerel dispute.”

 

EU and Scots fishermen to meet EU Fisheries Commissioner to highlight need for a fair deal on mackerel

22/10/2013

European Union mackerel fishermen – including from Scotland – will meet with EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki in Brussels tomorrow (21 October) to discuss crucial negotiations that will resume later this week (23 to 25 October) in London with Iceland and the Faroes to try and resolve the protracted dispute over mackerel quotas.

The EU and Norway are in dispute with Iceland and the Faroese following their move four years ago to unilaterally increase their mackerel quotas by massive amounts outwith an international management plan.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We will be telling the Commissioner that because of the recent independent science confirming the north-east Atlantic mackerel stock is in robust health that the EU must not be pressurised into rushing into a deal, and that any agreement struck must not compromise the interests of the UK and EU fleets who have been sustainably harvesting mackerel within a management plan.

“We will remind the Commissioner that the negotiating strategy should be pursued jointly with our colleagues in Norway, and that under no circumstances should any agreement contain the provision that would enable Iceland to fish for mackerel off the Scottish coast.

“We will also be telling her of the importance of mackerel to the UK and other parts of the EU, which supports a large number of jobs in the processing and associated onshore industries. It would be a tragedy if some of these traditional jobs were lost so as to reward others for their irresponsible behaviour.”

 

Scots fishermen welcome scientific assessment that mackerel stock is in robust health

07/10/2013

Scottish fishermen have welcomed the latest scientific assessment of mackerel abundance which reveals that the stock is in robust health.

The Total Allowable Catch advice for the north-east Atlantic in 2013 was 542,000 tonnes but now the advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea is for an increase of 64% to 889,886 tonnes for 2014.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA), said: “The scientific advice confirms what Scottish fishermen have repeatedly been saying that the stock remains in good health and that consumers can continue to eat Scottish mackerel safe in the knowledge that the fish are abundant in the sea and being sustainably caught by our fishermen.”

Mackerel has been at the forefront of a major dispute following the unilateral move by Iceland and the Faroes to massively increase their quotas outwith an international management plan. The Coastal States involved in the international mackerel fishery will consider this latest ICES advice as part of the annual mackerel meeting due to be held later this month. The SPFA plans to hold talks with both Scots Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead and UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon before this mackerel meeting.

Ian Gatt said: “Scottish fishermen hope that both Iceland and the Faroes come to the meeting with a flexible political mandate that enables their negotiators to table a compromise position that reflects the fluctuating and often uncertain nature of fish stock dynamics. The European Commission and both Scottish and UK fisheries ministers must ensure that a future mackerel deal has the interests of the UK fleet embedded into the heart of the agreement.”

 

Scots fishermen welcome signal of intention by EU to introduce sanction measures against the Faroes

22/05/2013

Scottish fishermen have welcomed the announcement today (21 May) by European Commissioner Maria Damanaki that the EU has notified the Faroe Islands that it intends to impose sanctions in response to their over-fishing of the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock.

The EU says the measures may include restrictions in the imports of herring and associated species fished by Faroese interests and restrictions on the access of Faroese vessels in EU harbours except for safety reasons. The notification from the EU is in response to the Faroese move earlier this year to withdraw from an international management plan for Atlanto-Scandian herring and set a unilateral quota at a level 145% higher than their 2012 quota. This was set against a context in which all other parties to the fishery had agreed to reduce their quotas by 26% for conservation reasons.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We welcome this move by the European Commission in response to the Faroese over-fishing of Atlanto-Scandian herring. The fishery is essentially a mixed one with mackerel being caught at the same time and for this reason we strongly believe that mackerel should also be included in the sanction measures. Farmed salmon should be incorporated too because they are fed with fishmeal made from both herring and mackerel.

“If these sanction measures don’t resolve the issue over a relatively short time, then they should be broadened to include all fishery products. This irresponsible and unsustainable over-fishing of our precious shared herring and mackerel stocks cannot be allowed to continue and we urge the Faroese to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible.”

 

Sanctions plan outlined by EC against Faroese on over-fishing of herring

13/05/2013

Commenting on today’s (13 May) developments at the European Union Fish Council meeting in Brussels where the EC has outlined a scheme to impose sanctions against the Faroes for its over-fishing of herring, Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said:

“We welcome this first step towards delivering a sanctions measure against the Faroese for their over-fishing of herring, which hopefully will provide new impetus that will also help resolve the issue of their excessive catching of mackerel.

“We believe that any sanctions brought against Faroe for the over-fishing of the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock should also apply to mackerel because they catch both species together in what is essentially a mixed fishery.

“We are disappointed there has been no significant further movement with regards to implementing sanctions against both Iceland and the Faroes for their over-catching of mackerel. In the case of Iceland, we urge the EC to seek an urgent meeting with the new Icelandic Government to try and get the negotiating process moving again. If this does not happen, then sanctions must immediately be implemented as a matter of course because every other avenue will have been reasonably explored without there being any breakthrough in resolving this dispute.”

 

Scots fishermen urge EC to impose sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes due to their over-fishing of mackerel

12/05/2013

With mackerel being one of the topics on the agenda for discussion at tomorrow’s (13 May) European Fish Council meeting in Brussels, Scottish fishermen are urging the European Commission to use the occasion to finally impose sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes for their continuing and significant over-fishing of the north-east Atlantic mackerel stock.

While measures for trade sanctions on imports of certain fishery products from Iceland and Faroes have already been agreed upon, the EC has yet to actually implement the plan. The Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA) says the time for ‘heel dragging’ is over and the EC must act now, especially since the mackerel catching season is about to begin.

Ian Gatt, SPFA chief executive, said: “We are becoming increasingly exasperated by the failure of the EU to impose sanctions and it is extremely disappointing that they are dragging their feet on this issue.

“This dispute has dragged on now for four years and we are still no nearer reaching a fair and equitable deal due to the intransigence of Iceland and the Faroes. At tomorrow’s Council meeting, it is vital that the Scottish and UK fisheries ministers attending the talks strongly press the EC to impose a sanctions package.

“The introduction of sanctions would send a clear and unequivocal message that their actions will not be tolerated by the responsible international community. We believe that the imposition of sanctions would help focus minds and provide the spur that ensures Iceland and the Faroes return to the negotiating table so as to reach a fair and balanced deal.”

 

Scottish pelagic industry part of EU fishing delegation pressing for immediate EU action to resolve mackerel stalemate

28/03/2013

The Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association was part of an EU pelagic industry delegation that met yesterday (26 March) with European Commissioner Maria Damanaki to express serious concern at the continuing stalemate in attempts to reach an international management agreement on north-east Atlantic mackerel and to urge for the immediate implementation of trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes.

The European fishing delegation, comprising of representatives from Scotland, Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands, expressed grave concern on the standstill in the coastal states negotiations and asked the Commissioner to implement quick and effective sanction measures in accordance with the very strong mandate given to her by both the European Parliament and Council against Iceland and the Faroe Islands with the aim to restore the sustainable management of the two stocks.

The meeting was set up to discuss the current situation of the management of pelagic stocks where Iceland has set an autonomous mackerel quota for 2013 of 123,000 ton or 22.7% of the science based 2013 TAC (total allowable catch)and where the Faroe Islands has set yesterday an autonomous mackerel quota of 159,000 ton or 29.3% of the 2013 TAC. This means that in 2013, both countries will catch 52% of the 2013 TAC, where as recently as 2006 their joint share in the mackerel catches was just over 5%.

Also yesterday the Faroe Islands decided to set an autonomous quota for Atlanto Scandian herring after stepping out of the five party management agreement (Norway, EU, Iceland, Faroe, Russia) for this stock in January this year. The autonomously set herring quota by Faroe Islands amounts to 105,000 ton - more than three times their share in accordance with the management plan.

Both the Commissioner and the industry shared their concern on this outrageous behaviour of the two countries. The industry representatives strongly pleaded for a quick introduction of an effective trade sanction measures by the European Commission. They pointed to the framework agreement (regulation 1026/2012) reached between the Council and the European Parliament in October 2012 which gave a very strong mandate to the European Commission to implement effective trade measures against countries that continue to fish in an unsustainable and irresponsible manner on stocks of shared interest with the EU.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We told the Commissioner that the unsustainable fishing practices of Iceland and the Faroes must not be allowed to continue any longer and that there must be the immediate implementation of trade sanctions that will hopefully provide the catalyst for reaching an agreement. The onus is currently on both Iceland and the Faroes to return to the negotiating table, but so far neither country has shown any inclination to do so.”

 

Rather than wasting time and effort on ‘spin’, Iceland needs to focus its direction on reaching a resolution to mackerel catching dispute

30/01/2013

Iceland should be directing its efforts towards seeking a resolution to the mackerel dispute in the north-east Atlantic rather than engaging in ‘futile’ PR exercises, says the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.

With the news that the Icelandic Government is hosting a visit by UK journalists on a media trip to Iceland this week, the SFF says that rather than using ‘spin to defend the indefensible’, Iceland should be focusing its efforts on re-opening negotiations.

“This is another futile attempt by Iceland to defend its indefensible action of dramatically and unilaterally increasing its mackerel catch outwith an agreed international management plan,” says Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF.

“It is a pity that Iceland doesn’t spend the same amount of time and effort in trying to find a negotiated solution to this dispute. The ball is very firmly in the court of both Iceland and the Faroes as they need to table a counter offer so as to get the negotiating process rolling again. So far this has not happened and in repeated negotiations over the last few years, where the EU and Norway have made several increased share offers, both Iceland and the Faroes have shown no willingness to seek a compromise solution.

“This is why the EU is so exasperated by the situation that the European Commission has informed the Coastal States involved in the fishery that it refuses to attend further meetings until an offer has been received by either or both parties. One also has to question why Iceland continually sets its mackerel catch at 23% of the TAC set by scientific advice when they are demanding a 15% share in the negotiations, which is a strange approach to sustainable catching.”

 

Scots fishermen condemn the Faroese for withdrawal from international management plan for Atlanto-Scandian herring

23/01/2013

Scottish fishermen have condemned the Faroe Islands for their withdrawal from international sharing arrangements for the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock.

At talks in London today, the Faroese decided to withdraw from international management for the stock and instead set its own unilateral quota, whilst all other parties (the EU, Iceland, Norway and Russia) have agreed to continue to participate under an agreed management plan.

A total allowable catch of 619,000 tonnes has been set for the fishery this year, of which the UK is allocated just over 8,000 tonnes. Despite the Faroese withdrawal, the other countries have still set aside the normal share for Faroes, which would have been almost 32,000 tonnes.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “This is totally irresponsible behaviour by the Faroe Islands for which there is absolutely no justification. As is already the case with mackerel, the Faroese seem intent on pursuing their own national interests with no concern for the health of the stock or acknowledgment of the need for the fishery to be controlled by an international management plan.

“It is essential that the EU now moves quickly to implement sanctions against the Faroese for their unsustainable actions and ensure that they are denied access to lucrative EU markets for their fish products.

“The Faroese are acting like pirates. Of key importance is the need for Denmark to exert its considerable influence to try and resolve the Faroese overfishing of key stocks. I met with UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon today, and amongst other issues, I urged him to press his Danish counterparts to find an urgent solution that will make the Faroese see sense.”

Atlanto-Scandian herring is a distinct stock of herring that is found in the north-east Atlantic and is separate from North Sea and West of Scotland herring.

Scots fishermen accuse Iceland Government of cynical propaganda exercise over mackerel dispute

21/11/2012

Scottish fishermen are accusing the Icelandic Government of undertaking a ‘cynical propaganda exercise’ by attempting to drive a wedge in the UK seafood industry in a desperate last ditch effort to justify its gross over-fishing of the north-east Atlantic mackerel stock.

The Embassy of Iceland in London and Iceland’s Ministry of Industries and Innovation is holding a briefing meeting in Lincolnshire tomorrow (21 November) for the local seafood industry and other fishing industry stakeholders in a bid to try and gain support for the massive unilateral increase in its north-east mackerel quota outwith any international agreement. Iceland, who caught very little mackerel prior to 2008, set themselves a mackerel quota for 2012 of 145,000 tonnes, putting the health of the stock in jeopardy. The Faroe Islands also set itself a massive unilateral quota, which was so large that it had to invite foreign vessels to catch the stock on their behalf.

For the last four years, a protracted serious of attempts by the EU and Norway to reach a sensible deal on mackerel have been repeatedly rebuffed by Iceland and the Faroes. The widespread anger caused by their unsustainable fishing practices and intransigent negotiating position recently led to the EU agreeing a sanctions package against both Iceland and the Faroes. This has led to the fear amongst fish processors in Grimsby and Hull that they may lose access to Icelandic whitefish supplies, such as cod and haddock.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, says the Iceland Government is now trying to take advantage of these concerns by holding tomorrow’s briefing session in Lincolnshire in a bid to create a split in the UK seafood industry.

“This is a cynical ploy where the Icelandic government intends to use spin and the manipulation of the facts to try and gain support for its totally indefensible over-fishing of the north-east Atlantic mackerel stock,” he said.

“We are very sympathetic to the concerns of the Humber seafood processing sector and we would be happy to meet with them as it is important that they are made aware of the true background to this dispute, which is threatening a UK fish stock resource of considerable value and for which we and our other international partners in the EU and Norway have been sustainably harvesting for many years.

“We believe the Icelanders will use the briefing session to claim that they are committed to sustainable mackerel fishing. This is a quite ludicrous assertion as their approach from the outset has never been to put the health of stock first for the benefit of all participants in the fishery, but instead hold it to ransom for their own advantage and without any due concern to the potential damage being inflicted upon it.

“The EU and Norwegian negotiating teams have made several fair offers during the protracted negotiation process, but these have been rebuffed each time with Iceland and the Faroese being totally intransigent and showing absolutely no intention of trying to seek a reasonable compromise.

“The truth behind Iceland’s sustainability credentials has been that it has increased its mackerel catch since 2005 from 363 tonnes per year to 145,000 tonnes – a 40,000% increase and totally out of line with scientific advice. Iceland says it is seeking a 15% share of the overall north-east Atlantic mackerel catch, but for the last three years it has been taking an allocation of 24%. That is a totally inconsistent position and underlines their total irresponsibility when it comes to sensible and responsible fisheries management.

“In addition, the science has been saying that the expansion of the mackerel stock, which has led to some of it for a small period of the year moving into Icelandic and Faroese waters, is down to the sustainable fishing activities and good husbandry of the EU and Norwegian fleets. We recognise that there needs to be a deal reached on this dispute, but it must be a fair and equitable agreement based on the facts rather than spin.”

Scots fishermen call on EC to act quickly to implement sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes

26/09/2012

Following the formal agreement at the EU Fisheries Council in Brussels today to penalise Iceland and the Faroes for their gross over-fishing of mackerel, Scottish fishermen are calling on the EC to act with real urgency and ensure that effective sanctions are quickly implemented.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We welcome this formal agreement for action, but the EC must now dramatically step up the pace and get an effective sanctions package implemented as soon as possible.

“Livelihoods in both the Scottish catching, processing and other ancillary sectors could be affected if the totally irresponsible over-fishing by Iceland and the Faroes were to result in reduced quotas for our fishing fleet, which has been adhering to scientific advice and fishing sustainably.”

In recent years Iceland and the Faroes have set themselves massively inflated autonomous mackerel quotas outwith any international management agreement with the EU and Norway.

Scots fishermen welcome European Parliament vote in support of sanctions against Iceland and Faroe over mackerel

13/09/2012

Scottish fishermen have welcomed the vote of approval given by the European Parliament today for the implementation of sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes in response to their failure to reach an agreement on international mackerel quotas for the north-east Atlantic.

Now that the sanctions proposal has been approved by the European Parliament, Scots fishermen are urging the European Commission to implement the measures as soon as possible. The next round of negotiations between the EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroes are due to resume again next month and Scottish fishermen are keen that a clear signal is given that a fair and equitable deal must now be reached.

The broad ranging sanction measures agreed means the EU is now in the position to apply “quantitative restrictions” on the imports into the EU of Icelandic or Faroese caught mackerel, which would also have the scope to cover other fish species associated with the fishery. There is a broad definition to these ‘associated species’, so in effect it could cover a wide range of fishery products.

Other sanction measures agreed include restrictions on the use of EU ports by vessels flying the flag of the country or territory deemed to be over-fishing, and restrictions on boats transporting fish and fishery products from the stock of common interest and associated species. There is also scope to further tighten the sanction measures if it is deemed that the initial measures are proving ineffective.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We welcome today’s vote by the European Parliament, although it is essential that the European Commission now moves quickly to implement the measures.

“This is the third straight year without an international agreement on mackerel, which means the sustainability of this valuable fishery is being jeopardised. Hopefully, today’s vote will help ensure that Iceland and the Faroes recognise the seriousness of the situation and at long last they will return to the table to engage in meaningful negotiations.”

In recent years Iceland and the Faroes have set themselves massively inflated mackerel quotas outwith any international agreement with the EU and Norway.

Scots fishermen welcome agreement on fisheries sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes

27/06/2012

Scottish fishermen have welcomed the news that the European Parliament and the Danish Presidency have agreed a comprehensive sanctions package against countries and territories engaged in unsustainable fishing practices.

The agreement now paves the way for the implementation of trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes in response to the massive autonomous quotas they have set for mackerel that are not part of any responsible international fisheries management arrangements.

The broad ranging sanction measures agreed means the EU is now in the position to apply “quantitative restrictions” on the imports into the EU of Icelandic or Faroese caught mackerel, which would also have the scope to cover other fish species associated with the fishery. There is a broad definition to these ‘associated species’, so in effect it could cover a wide range of fishery products.

Other sanction measures agreed include restrictions on the use of EU ports by vessels flying the flag of the country or territory deemed to be over-fishing, and restrictions on boats transporting fish and fishery products from the stock of common interest and associated species. There is also scope to further tighten the sanction measures if it is deemed that the initial measures are proving ineffective.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We have been calling for these sanction measures for a long time and we are delighted at this sanctions package. The two most important elements are for the sanction measures to be meaningful, which is clearly the case here, and the second is the timing of implementation so as to ensure that these measures are in place prior to the commencement of the October negotiations.

“Hopefully these measures will make Iceland and the Faroes realise that their unsustainable fishing practices will not be tolerated by the responsible international fisheries community. It is vital that both these countries now come back to the negotiating table and reach a sensible international management arrangement for the precious mackerel stock that will ensure a sustainable future for the fishery.

“The Scottish fishing industry would in particular like to thank the important role played by Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP for helping broker this sanctions agreement.”

Iceland has unilaterally increased its mackerel catch from only 363 tonnes in 2005 to 147,000 tonnes in 2012. The Faroese autonomous quota has soared from 27,830 tonnes in 2009 to 149,000 tonnes in 2012.

 

Scots fishermen welcome European Parliament support for sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes

26/04/2012

The Scottish fishing industry has welcomed the unanimous vote by the European Parliament Fisheries Committee in support of trade sanctions against countries that engage in unsustainable fishing practices.

It is hoped that the resolution at yesterday’s (24 April) meeting will ease the way for the introduction of trade sanctions by the EU against Iceland and the Faroes in response to their massive unilateral quotas for mackerel that lie outwith any international management agreement.

In particular, Scots fishermen have welcomed the support by Fisheries Committee to widen the scope of application of the trade sanction measures to include all fish and products, which will considerably enhance the effectiveness of any future sanction measures. After a plenary vote in the European Parliament on this resolution scheduled for June this year, the European Council will then give its opinion on the proposed sanction measure.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “This is an important step in ensuring that a meaningful package of sanction measures is brought forward against Iceland and the Faroes. Both countries must be brought to task for their unsustainable fishing practices and made to realise that such actions will not be tolerated by the responsible international fisheries community.”

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We congratulate the European Parliament Fisheries Committee for their unanimous support for sanction measures and also the need to broaden their scope.

“It is vital that every effort is taken to ensure the health of our precious mackerel stock and all European Governments must now throw their full support behind these proposals so as to ensure that the EU introduces these sanction measures as a matter of urgency.”

 

The European Parliament will take a firm stance against unsustainable fishing practices - MEP Gallagher

16/02/2012

The EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands are currently meeting in Reykjavik for the 11th occasion in an effort to end the massive overfishing of mackerel.

Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP today urged "all involved in the talks in Reykjavik to take a pragmatic and sensible attitude as regards the sharing of the mackerel stock otherwise the long term sustainability of a healthy mackerel stock will be put in jeopardy."

In response to the ongoing crisis the Committee on Fisheries in the European Parliament appointed Pat the Cope Gallagher to oversee the introduction of new trade measures against non EU countries engaged in unsustainable fishing practices.

According to Mr. Gallagher "The European Parliament will not be found wanting when it comes to the introduction of tough measures against non EU countries engaged in unsustainable and reckless fishing practices."

"I will propose to the Fisheries Committee when we meet on the 29th of February to go further than the Commission proposal so as to include all fish and fishery products as it appears that the talks may once more end without agreement."

"I sincerely hope that the proposed measures will never be used. However, these new measures will result in serious economic consequences for countries that play Russian roulette with our shared resources."

 

Joint Statement of Commissioner Damanaki and Norwegian Minister Berg-Hansen on mackerel

16/02/2012

Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, on behalf of the European Union, and Lisbehth Berg-Hansen, Minister of Fisheries, on behalf of Norway, have expressed their disappointment and grave concern following the inconclusive outcome of the meeting on mackerel fishery in the North-East Atlantic, held in Reykjavik from 14 to 16 February 2012 between the EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands (the so-called coastal states).

In spite of five rounds of consultations in autumn 2011 and early 2012, at which the EU and Norway submitted three series of proposals, it is particularly disappointing that neither Iceland nor the Faroe Islands really engaged in the negotiation process. It is regrettable that neither Iceland nor the Faroe Islands have made proposals, which would have respected the zonal attachment principles and historical fishing, on which stock sharing arrangements have been negotiated by those same Parties in the past.

The joint EU/Norway proposals, made during the negotiations, offered Iceland and the Faroe Islands a considerably increased share. They would also have allowed Icelandic and Faroese vessels to fish a significant part of their quota share in EU and Norwegian waters, where the value of the fish is significantly higher than in Icelandic or Faroese waters.

Whilst the Union and Norway appreciate the key role of fisheries in the Icelandic and Faroese economies, Iceland and the Faroe Islands seem to neglect the dependency that coastal communities in the Union and Norway have on the stock. Mackerel fishing has been an important source of income for decades in our coastal communities, for many thousands of fishermen operating both in large-scale and artisanal fisheries. Iceland is the newcomer in the mackerel fishery.

The EU and Norway have built up the mackerel stock on a sustainable basis. This sustainability is being directly threatened by the recent development of new and unilateral fisheries by Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

The EU and Norway recognise that the change in the migration pattern in recent years, due to the expansion of the stock, justifies a modified sharing arrangement. However Icelandic mackerel fisheries have increased from almost zero catch in 2006 to catches of 156,802 tonnes in the Icelandic Zone in 2011, whilst Faroese catch levels have increased six-fold over two years to 150,000 tonnes in 2011. If the EU and Norway had followed the same Icelandic and Faroese logic for the justification of setting quotas, then the total fishing pressure on the stock would go totally out of control. Such developments are, in the view of the Union and Norway, inconsistent with sustainable management and in violation of international commitments by Iceland and the Faroe Islands to co-operate with other Parties.

The Union and Norway call on Iceland and the Faroe Islands to reduce their current unsustainable fishing levels. We remain ready in the future to continue to seek a reasonable and fair quota sharing arrangement, which will respect the rights and obligations of all Parties.

 

Scots fishermen condemn Iceland and the Faroes over breakdown of international mackerel talks

16/02/2012

Scottish fishermen have condemned Iceland and the Faroes for the breakdown in talks in Reykjavik today (16 February) with the EU and Norway on reaching an international deal for the sustainable management of the North-East Atlantic mackerel fishery.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA), branded this final set of talks with Iceland and the Faroes as a “wild goose chase” with neither of the countries showing any intention of seeking realistic compromise in the negotiations.

He said: “We condemn Iceland for inviting Coastal States to Reykjavik for further talks when they had no intention of compromising or tabling a realistic solution to this mackerel catching dispute. It was simply a wild goose chase. We should also question why the Faroe Islands turn up to these talks when they contribute nothing to the debate, remain silent and are clearly intent on hammering the mackerel stock again this year.

“It is glaringly apparent that continual negotiation and compromise by the EU and Norway is not going to achieve an agreement with Iceland and the Faroes. Sanctions must now be implemented against Iceland and the Faroes before their summer mackerel fisheries begin.

“We know the European Parliament is making good progress with the sanction proposal but it will also need European fisheries ministers to endorse the sanction measures. Given that the UK is the largest stakeholder in the mackerel fishery, we call upon Scots fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead and UK fisheries minister Richard Benyon to throw their full weight behind this and ensure that sanctions are in place before these fisheries commence.

Mr Gatt added that the SPFA also fully supported the comments made today by Irish MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher, who has been tasked by the European Parliament to oversee the introduction of new trade measures against non-EU countries engaged in unsustainable fishing practices. In a statement, Mr Gallagher said that he will propose to the European Fisheries Committee when it meets on 29 February to go further than the original EC proposal so as to include all fish and fishery products in the proposed sanctions.

It is now anticipated that Iceland and Faroe will set quotas based on how much fish they can catch when the mackerel stock is in their zone, rather than pursue a sustainable fishery based on an international fisheries agreement, putting the health of this incredibly important stock in jeopardy.

 

Scots mackerel fishermen welcome sanctions announcement by EC Fisheries Commissioner

15/12/2011

Scottish mackerel fishermen have welcomed the commitment given today (15 December) by Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki at the EU Fish Council meeting in Brussels that negotiations for a new mackerel agreement in January are the last chance for Faroes and Iceland to avoid sanctions. If no agreement is reached, then the process will start for the introduction of sanctions.

Whilst details of the full extent of the sanction measures have still to be revealed, Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said the move by the EC is welcome.

“Mackerel is an incredibly important stock for Scotland and this announcement today by Commissioner Damanaki gives a clear signal that Iceland and the Faroes must now see sense and reach a responsible agreement that will ensure sustainable fishing of mackerel in the north-east Atlantic,” he said.

“If no agreement is reached at the next round of talks in January, then Iceland and the Faroes will have to recognise that they will no longer have full access for the trade of their fish products into the crucially important European market. Hopefully, this will provide the spur for Iceland and the Faroes to reach a fair and balanced deal.

“The Scottish fishing industry will seek assurances from the Scottish and UK Governments that they will lend their full support in delivering the required legislation for sanctions.”

 

Mackerel uncertainty continues

14/12/2011

Commenting on the failure of marathon negotiations at the end of last week to agree an international mackerel fishing deal in talks that included the EU, Norway, Faroe Islands and Iceland, Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said:

“The situation is described as being not a complete breakdown but that negotiations are suspended and will be resumed in Reykjavik on 25 January 2012. We understand that both Iceland and the Faroes were made an offer on mackerel shares from the EU and Norway, which while not accepted, it is our understanding that Iceland hasn’t rejected it either, and this is the basis for continuing the talks next month.

“In the meantime, a provisional mackerel quota has been set by the EU and Norway. This is obviously not an ideal solution as it again sees the Scottish industry working under a cloud regarding our final mackerel allocation.”

It is expected that the EC will propose sanctions this week against Iceland and the Faroes on 14 December ahead of the December Fish Council in Brussels. This will be a proposal from the EC, and it will then be up to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament to legislate on the proposal.

Mr Gatt said: “We welcome this move as it has been a long time in coming and will send a clear message to Iceland and the Faroes that the EU is serious about taking action against over-fishing. The Scots pelagic industry will be urging Scots fisheries minister Richard Lochhead, and UK counterpart Richard Benyon, to take the lead on this, given that the UK is the largest stakeholder in the mackerel fishery.

Meanwhile, Ian Gatt is in Strasbourg today (12 December) in attendance of a debate and vote on the future of the EU/Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement, which provides crucial employment for Scottish and Western Saharan people.

Mr Gatt said: “Several factories in the town of Dahkla are dependent upon the fish caught by a Scottish fishing company for their livelihoods, and should the European Parliament vote against the partnership agreement, then many jobs could be jeopardised. Struan Stevenson MEP has been incredibly supportive to the Scottish pelagic industry on this and has worked tirelessly in the lead up to the vote.”

Later this week, the December Fish Council gets underway on 15 December, and the SPFA will be looking to secure herring quotas in the West of Scotland and Irish Sea in line with ICES scientific advice. In addition, Scotland’s pelagic fishermen will be looking to secure additional quota in boarfish, a relatively new fishery that is being undertaken in the Bay of Biscay.

 

Scots pelagic fishermen to underline new concerns over mackerel to Scottish fisheries minister

25/11/2011

Scottish mackerel fishermen will tell Scots fisheries minister Richard Lochhead at a meeting in Aberdeen tomorrow (25 November) that they are deeply concerned that the European Union is ready to give up a huge share of the Scottish mackerel quota so as to strike a deal with Iceland and the Faroe Islands. A new round of mackerel negotiations is due to begin in the Republic of Ireland on 6 December and there are now worrying signs emanating from the Commission that the EU simply wants to put this dispute to bed, whatever the cost.

Norway is taking a much tougher line and is simply not prepared to give away their fishing entitlement on the back of reckless behaviour by Iceland and the Faroes.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA), said: “Iceland and the Faroes have massively increased their mackerel catches in recent years in a bid to hold the EU and Norway at ransom over mackerel shares. Iceland has only recently started fishing on the mackerel stock, with catches in 2005 amounting to only 363 tonnes and has no history in participating in the fishery. In the last few years Iceland has increased its mackerel quota to 150,000 tonnes, driving a horse and cart through an international fishery agreement that had been in place for decades.”

Scottish fishermen will tell Mr Lochhead that they are wholly aligned to the Norwegian position and that the principle of “crime pays” should not prevail. They will also question what has happened to the EU sanction proposal that European fishermen were promised first sight of in October.

Mr Gatt said: “The Scottish pelagic industry needs an agreement on mackerel, but a deal should be fair and equitable based on fishing practices undertaken over many years. Setting quota shares on how much fish you can catch when the mackerel stock is in your waters, as undertaken by Iceland and Faroe Islands, is simply not an option. If the European and Norwegian fleet used that unsustainable approach there would be no mackerel left to swim in Icelandic and Faroese waters. Iceland and the Faroes must realise that they are putting the sustainability of a previously well-managed stock in grave danger.

“We will call on Mr Lochhead to work closely with the Irish fisheries Minister, Simon Coveney, to ensure that the EU through its negotiating position does not jeopardise the viability of the UK and Irish mackerel fleets.”

The SPFA will also tell Mr Lochhead that the North Sea herring stock has doubled over the last two years, which now offers a real opportunity to harvest significantly more fish from the stock, and the Association will ask the minister to add his support for a scientifically justified quota increase.

Meanwhile, a significant blue whiting fishery could bolster pelagic landings into Scottish processing factories due to a large uplift in the quota.

Mr Gatt said: “We will underline to the minister that we are concerned that blue whiting tonnage could be given to Norway by the EU as part of the bi-lateral fishing agreement. Scotland doesn’t benefit from the Arctic cod stocks returned to the EU as part of the blue whiting swap. Factories in Scotland have invested heavily in state of the art equipment so that blue whiting, traditionally a fishmeal fishery, can now be processed for human consumption. This fishery is vital in keeping jobs open for factory workers between the winter mackerel fisheries and the summer herring fisheries. We will inform Mr Lochhead that this fish stock is fully utilised by the Scottish fleet and retains jobs in Scotland and ask for his support to ensure that the Scottish quota is retained within Scotland.”

 

New talks in London to find resolution to mackerel dispute

18/10/2011

The first phase of a new round of talks to try and break the deadlock over mackerel catching opportunities in the north-east Atlantic will begin in London tomorrow (19 October).

These talks represent a new opportunity for the EU and Norway to try and broker an international coastal states management agreement for mackerel with Iceland and the Faroes, which Scotland’s mackerel fishermen maintain is essential to ensure the long-term sustainability of the fishery.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “The mackerel stock in the north-east Atlantic is an incredibly precious resource that requires careful and integrated management and it is more important than ever that an acceptable deal is reached to ensure the future sustainability of the fishery.”

It looks likely that this first phase of negotiations will go to a second round of talks at a later date.

Scots mackerel fishermen meet with fisheries secretary

09/09/2011

Commenting on today's meeting between the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association (SPFA) and Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead to discuss the ongoing situation of serious overfishing of mackerel by Iceland and the Faroes, Ian Gatt, chief executive of the SPFA, said:

"We were pleased to have the opportunity to discuss with the Minister this very serious issue prior to crucial negotiations on the international mackerel fishery that will commence in October.

"The current overfishing of valuable mackerel by Iceland and the Faroes outwith any international management plan is completely unacceptable and a practicable resolution must be achieved.

"We are anticipating developments in the next few weeks over the shape and form of sanctions that the EC proposes to introduce against Iceland and the Faroes. It is essential that such sanctions are meaningful and are introduced as soon as possible."

 

Scots fishermen welcome joint statement from EC Commissioner and Norwegian fisheries minister on North Atlantic mackerel fisheries

28/07/2011

Scots mackerel fishermen have welcomed a joint statement issued by EC Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki and Norwegian Fisheries Minister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen that all possible options are being examined to stop the ‘damaging exploitation’ of mackerel by Iceland and the Faroes who are both catching enormous unilaterally set mackerel quotas outwith any international agreement.

The statement, which was issued after EU and Norwegian mackerel fishermen met with Commissioner Damanaki on 25 July in Brussels, also called upon Iceland and the Faroe Islands to return to the negotiating table with a constructive approach and to agree on common fishery arrangements for 2012 that are responsible and sustainable.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association said: “We welcome this immediate response from the EU and Norway following our meeting, which is a positive statement of intent. The north-east Atlantic mackerel stock is an incredibly precious resource and it is vital that Iceland and the Faroes return to the negotiating table to find a sensible resolution that ensures the sustainability of the fishery.”

The statement can be found under the following link:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/damanaki/headlines/press-releases/2011/07/20110727_en.htm

 

EU and Norwegian fishing industries jointly met Commissioner Damanaki to give a strong message on mackerel

27/07/2011

Today in a unique event, the EU and Norwegian fishing industries' – including Scotland – met Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki in Brussels to discuss the reckless and irresponsible behaviour of Faroe Islands and Iceland in continuing to plunder the mackerel stock with impunity.

2011 is the fourth year that Iceland and the second year that the Faroes have allowed themselves a virtually limitless mackerel fisheries in their waters based on enormous autonomous mackerel quotas.

After the talks, the European Association of Fish Producers Organisations, said: “Both countries act completely outside the current management plan for this stock and outside the scientific advice by ICES. For the Norwegian and European pelagic industries the mackerel stock is their lifeblood and the lack of effective measures by the EU and Norway aiming at bringing both countries back to regular management of the mackerel stock is extremely disappointing."

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We are pleased that the Commissioner has reacted positively to our proposed action plan and we are very hopeful that in the near future both the Commissioner and the Norwegian fisheries minister will be successful in adopting measures to stop this reckless and irresponsible behaviour by Iceland and the Faroe Islands”.

In the meeting the industry underlined:

- that since 2006 the Faroe Islands and Iceland together have increased autonomously their share in the mackerel fisheries from 5% to 46% of the Total Allowable Catch.

- that the Faroe Islands –in order to be able to utilize their 2011 quota- have decided to issue mackerel licenses to Faroese whitefish vessels as well as to a number of third country vessels. A number of these are now listed on the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) list of Illegal, Unregulated and Unmanaged fisheries (IUU) – in other words they are on an international black-list.

- that the mackerel stock is very healthy but that this continuous plundering will affect the stock.

- that the fundamental principle in achieving a solution must be that Iceland and Faroe Islands will not be rewarded for their behaviour in the form of a substantial future share in the stock.

Furthermore the industries requested the following actions by the Commissioner:

- Work together in close cooperation with her Norwegian ministerial colleague in the same manner as the industries are doing.

- Immediate inspection visits to Iceland and Faroe Islands under the heading of NEAFC.

- Enforcing existing NEAFC regulation backed up by the EU and Norwegian regulation on IUU.

- Implement a total import ban into EU and Norway of all fish and fish products from Iceland and Faroe Islands.

- Freeze accession talks with Iceland.

Unfortunately, due to the tragic events in Norway last week the scheduled meeting with minister Berg-Hansen was postponed to a later date in August.

 

Scots fishermen represented at key meetings in Brussels to discuss serious mackerel situation

25/07/2011

Scottish fishermen will be represented at key meetings in Brussels tomorrow (Tuesday 26 July) involving the EU and Norwegian pelagic industries and EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki to discuss the current extremely serious mackerel situation, with the Faroes and Iceland continuing to plunder the stock with immunity.

The European Association of Fish Producers Organisations says: “This is the fourth summer for Iceland and the second summer for the Faroes that both fishing nations have allowed a virtually limitless mackerel fisheries in their waters based on enormous autonomous mackerel quotas.

“Both countries are acting completely outside the current management plan for this stock and outside the scientific advice given by the International Council of the Exploration of the Sea. For the Norwegian and European pelagic industries the mackerel stock is their lifeblood and the lack of effective measures by the EU and Norway aimed at bringing both countries to the negotiating table with a more constructive attitude is disappointing.” 

Both the EU and Norwegian industries have requested these urgent meetings to discuss a joint approach to redress the situation. Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, will be representing Scotland at the talks.

 

Scottish fishermen slam EC for failure to take immediate action on mackerel

29/06/2011

Responding to today’s EU AgriFish Council in Luxembourg where the EC failed to agree on immediate action in the form of trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes in response to their massively increased unilateral quotas for mackerel, Ian Gatt chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association said:

“We are extremely disappointed that the EC has not seen the need to introduce immediate sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes.

“The mackerel fishery has just started and the slow approach taken by the EC means that a huge amount of damage could be done to this valuable stock in the intervening period. The EC should have introduced sanctions at the first available opportunity and their failure to do so is a missed opportunity that would have put real pressure on Iceland and the Faroes to resolve this dispute.

“Scottish mackerel fishermen have been repeatedly told about the tough line the Commission is going to take against Iceland and the Faroes but we are now 12 months down the road and absolutely no action has been taken so far.

“We support the three-point plan put forward by Scots Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead that includes an International Ministerial Summit and to investigate the feasibility of taking the case to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Seas."

 

Mackerel quota dispute to top agenda in meeting between Scottish pelagic fishermen and Scots fisheries minister

26/05/2011

Scottish pelagic fishermen will meet with Scottish Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead in Aberdeen tomorrow (27 May), with a key element of the talks likely to focus on developing a strategy to resolve the ongoing dispute with Iceland and the Faroes over mackerel quotas.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, says it is imperative that as much pressure is brought on Iceland and the Faroes to reach a sensible agreement that does not jeopardise the sustainability of the stock and which protects Scotland’s traditional fishing rights.

“We congratulate Mr Lochhead on his recent reappointment as Fisheries Minister following the Scottish Government elections and are pleased that his knowledge and experience will ensure that there is continuity in the handling of important fisheries issues,” he said.

“We are also pleased the Minister has agreed to meet with us so soon after the election, which highlights the importance the Scottish Government places on Scotland’s mackerel and herring industry.

“Although the talks will cover a wide range of issues affecting our sector, a major focus will be on the dispute with Iceland and the Faroes and their outrageous implementation of massively increased mackerel quotas that threatens the sustainability of this vital stock to Scotland.

“The meeting will try to identify some common ideas that can be developed into a strategy that will help break the impasse in the dispute. The actions of Iceland and the Faroes are totally irresponsible and threatens real damage to a stock that has been carefully looked after by the Scottish fleet.”

 

Anger at decision by the Faroes to massively increase mackerel quota

15/03/2011

Scottish fishermen have expressed their anger at the decision by the Faroe Islands to unilaterally set itself a massively increased quota for mackerel this year of 150,000 tonnes.

The move follows the breakdown of talks in Oslo last week in which the Faroes and Iceland refused to accept a compromise deal on catching opportunity from the EU and Norway to ensure a sustainable future for the north-east Atlantic mackerel stock. Iceland had already set itself a unilateral total allowable catch (TAC) for mackerel of around 155,000 tonnes for 2011.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said that if the Faroes had stuck by the Coastal States management plan for mackerel that it previously participated in, then their quota this year should have been 29,700 tonnes.

“In effect they have massively increased their quota by five-fold, which goes against all scientific advice. Their behaviour is grossly irresponsible and puts at real risk a stock that has been carefully nurtured and looked after by the Scottish fleet. If every nation unilaterally increased their quotas five-fold, then there would be no fish left in the sea.

“The Faroese maintain that changes in the migratory patterns of mackerel is behind their decision to increase their quota. However, we totally refute this suggestion as there is no evidence that there has been any change in the movement of mackerel.

“We have already seen the impact of the lack of an international agreement on the blue whiting stock, which has been decimated as a result of a number of non-EU countries such as Iceland and the Faroes engaging in ‘free-for-all’ fishing. The impact on Scottish jobs if the same were to happen to mackerel would be disastrous.

“The situation is so serious that the Scottish Government needs to take charge of the negotiations at the highest ministerial level. In the meantime, Scottish and European fishermen are determined that no Faroese mackerel will be landed into our ports.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation has also expressed its concern at the impact on some parts of the whitefish fleet by the decision by the Faroes to remain outside an international management agreement for mackerel, which will mean a significant number of Scottish whitefish vessels will be denied access to Faroese waters, putting further pressure on an already economically pressured fleet.

 

Scottish fishermen call for sanctions against Iceland and Faroes following breakdown of mackerel talks

11/03/2011

Scottish fishermen have expressed bitter disappointment that the three-day talks in Oslo to try and reach an agreement on joint management arrangements of the north-east Atlantic mackerel stock has ended in deadlock.

The Scottish, EU and Norwegian fishing industries blame the failure of this latest round of talks due to the unrealistic demands and irresponsible behaviour of Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

Negotiations have been ongoing since last year with the Faroe Islands and Iceland with the aim of concluding a comprehensive sustainable mackerel management agreement.

Iceland has already set its own autonomous mackerel quota for 2011 of more than 150,000 tonnes, which is not backed by scientific advice. The Faroese have still to set their unilateral mackerel quota for 2011, but last year they allocated 85,000 tonnes of mackerel quota to their vessel owners.

Ian Gatt chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We are bitterly disappointed that the totally unrealistic and intransigent stance taken by Iceland the Faroes during these latest talks has meant that it was not possible to reach an agreement. The EU and Norway offered genuine and meaningful concessions in a bid to find a resolution, but these were rejected.

“The move by both countries to significantly increase their already grossly over-inflated quotas is the height of irresponsibility and could do real damage to a stock that has been sustainably harvested and carefully looked after by the Scottish fleet.

“It is now more essential than ever that the EU imposes meaningful sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes, including putting accession talks with Iceland to join the EU on hold.

“The EU must stand up for the rights of those Member States already in the Union and ensure the stocks we rely on and our businesses are protected from countries on the outside. Given this is probably the EU’s most valuable fish stock it’s only right and proper that resolution of the dispute is a pre-condition for accepting Iceland into the body of the EU.”

 

New meeting in Oslo in could pave way to resolution in international mackerel dispute

08/03/2011

Scottish fishermen are hoping that the deadlock over mackerel catching arrangements in the international north-east Atlantic fishery will be finally resolved at a three day Coastal States meeting in Oslo that begins tomorrow (9 March).

These talks represent a new opportunity for the EU and Norway to forge an international coastal states management agreement for mackerel with Iceland and the Faroes, which Scottish fishermen maintain is essential to ensure the long-term sustainability of the fishery.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We hope that after a period of reflection that Icelandic and Faroese representatives at the talks will recognise the need to strike a deal, which is essential given that the stock is still in good health.

“It is vital for the future of the Scottish mackerel sector that there is restoration of sensible and responsible mackerel management arrangements in the north-east Atlantic so as to secure the long-term sustainable future of the stock. However, whilst reaching a deal is important, it must not be done so at any cost and it needs to ensure that Scotland’s traditional mackerel catching rights are not compromised.”

 

Scottish fishermen welcome failure of Faroese bid to have their mackerel fishery certified as sustainable

30/01/2011

Scottish fishermen have welcomed the failure of a bid by the Faroe Islands to seek Marine Stewardship Council certification for their mackerel fishery.

The Scottish Government had lodged an objection to the Faroese application to have their mackerel fishery independently certified as being sustainable because of their decision to set a massively increased unilateral quota for 2010, which was three times larger than their previous share. They have also walked away from talks for a new 2011 international agreement.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s intervention and are pleased that their objection has been upheld.

“This will send a strong message to the Faroese that their irresponsible actions will not be tolerated because it threatens the sustainability of an important fishery that has been carefully nurtured by Scotland.

“It will also help consumers make informed choices so that they can ensure their mackerel purchases only come from sustainable fisheries such as that responsibly harvested by Scotland.

“We fully support the exacting MSC standard and its tough accreditation scheme where fisheries are extensively scrutinised. It is only right that if a fishery fails to make the standard that it should be exempted from certification.”

More sanctions and a halt to EU accession talks required to bring resolution to mackerel dispute

25/01/2011

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, has told the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament in Brussels today (25 January) that further sanctions must be imposed upon Iceland and their Accession talks to join the EU put on hold until there is a satisfactory resolution to the ongoing dispute over international mackerel quotas.

In a presentation to the Committee on behalf of European fishing representative body Europeche, Mr Gatt said that Iceland’s significant unilateral quota for mackerel is threatening the sustainability of the stock and undermining the future livelihoods of European fishing communities.

“How can Iceland justify fishing flat out for mackerel when the stock is in their waters?,” he said. “If the European fleet adopted that attitude when the stock is in the EU zone, there would be very little fish left to swim in Icelandic waters. That’s simply no way to manage fisheries if we are to pass on healthy stocks and viable enterprises to the next generation.”

He added: “Commissioner Damanaki has written to the Parliament stating the EU’s intention to ban Icelandic mackerel landings into EU ports. This move is very much welcomed by the European pelagic fleet as a first step, but further stronger sanctions will be needed to have any meaningful effect as Icelandic vessels don’t have a history of landing mackerel in the EU.

“It’s quite incredible the Commission needs to invoke sanctions against a country seeking to join the Union, but clearly, protecting the rights of the existing Members must be the priority.

“The EU must stand up for the rights of those Member States already in the Union and ensure the stocks we rely on and our businesses are protected from countries on the outside. Given this is probably the EU’s most valuable fish stock it’s only right and proper that resolution of the dispute is a pre-condition for accepting Iceland into the body of the EU.”

Mr Gatt concluded: “The EU must also deploy consequential sanctions against Iceland until the dispute has been resolved to the satisfaction of the 14 Member States reliant on this stock.

“In addition, the EU must urgently develop policies to arm itself against those who seek to damage the businesses and fabric of the Member State’s Communities.”

 

Scottish mackerel fishermen welcome Icelandic mackerel landing ban as important first step in resolving quota dispute

13/01/2011

Scottish fishermen have welcomed the indication given today (13 January) that the EU will ban landings of Icelandic mackerel into EU ports from tomorrow.

Reports indicate that EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki will tell a meeting of the European Economic Area (EEA) in Brussels tomorrow that Icelandic landings will be banned immediately.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said this marked a first important step into what will hopefully lead to even stronger sanctions in response to Iceland’s failure to reach a satisfactory resolution on international mackerel quotas.

Mr Gatt said he hoped these initial sanctions will send a strong message to Iceland – and the Faroes – that the unilateral setting of massively increased quotas threatens the sustainability of a vital north-east Atlantic stock and will not be tolerated by responsible fishing nations.

He said: “We welcome this move by the EU as an important first step and we would like to see the sanctions increased further to cover frozen mackerel imports and also fishmeal made from unsustainably caught Icelandic mackerel.

“We would also like the same sanctions to apply to the Faroes. They are not a member of the EEA so a quick co-decision-making process by the European Parliament and the EC is required to ensure that the Faroese will also face sanctions for their irresponsible behaviour.

“In addition, talks by Iceland to join the EU should be suspended as it is unthinkable that such negotiations should continue until a resolution to the dispute is reached that satisfies the member states concerned.”

 

Scottish mackerel fishermen call on EC Fisheries Commissioner to turn words into action

14/12/2010

Commenting on the statement yesterday (13 December) by Maria Damanaki, the EC Fisheries Commissioner, that she would be pushing for the EU to take action against Iceland and the Faroe Islands because of their intention to continue to fish for mackerel outwith an international management agreement, Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association said:

“We welcome the statement made by the Commissioner but it is vitally important to convert these words into action as we have had such statements of intent for several months now.

“Any punitive action should not be taken lightly but the irresponsible behaviour of Iceland and the Faroes is threatening a valuable stock of fish that has been carefully looked after and sustainably harvested by our fishing fleet. “

Mrs Damanaki said yesterday that she was consulting on ways of restricting landings of Icelandic mackerel into the EU. She also indicated that she would press for regulations that could result in the ban on imports of fish from countries acting outside international fishery agreements, such as the Faroe Islands.

 

Scottish mackerel fishermen call on EC Fisheries Commissioner to turn words into action

12/12/2010

Commenting on the statement yesterday (13 December) by Maria Damanaki, the EC Fisheries Commissioner, that she would be pushing for the EU to take action against Iceland and the Faroe Islands because of their intention to continue to fish for mackerel outwith an international management agreement, Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association said:

“We welcome the statement made by the Commissioner but it is vitally important to convert these words into action as we have had such statements of intent for several months now.

“Any punitive action should not be taken lightly but the irresponsible behaviour of Iceland and the Faroes is threatening a valuable stock of fish that has been carefully looked after and sustainably harvested by our fishing fleet. “

Mrs Damanaki said yesterday that she was consulting on ways of restricting landings of Icelandic mackerel into the EU. She also indicated that she would press for regulations that could result in the ban on imports of fish from countries acting outside international fishery agreements, such as the Faroe Islands.

 

Norway agree mackerel catch quotas

11/12/2010

Bilateral talks between the EU and Norway to set mackerel catches in the north-east Atlantic for 2011 has resulted in the setting of a total allowable catch of 646,000 tonnes.

The agreed final figure is within the permitted range recommended by scientific advice and provisional figures suggest the UK quota will increase by around 14,000 tonnes to 190,000 tonnes.

The agreement between the EU and Norway for an integrated management programme for mackerel follows the decision by Iceland and the Faroe Islands to set their own unilateral quotas for 2011.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We welcome the fact the EU and Norway have not been bullied into taking account of Iceland and Faroes irresponsible fisheries by ensuring that our long established historical share of the mackerel fishery has not been undermined.

“Long-term responsible management for the mackerel fishery is essential for the sustainability of the stock. It is now up to Iceland and the Faroes to return to the negotiating table and come to a sensible international management arrangement.”

 

Mackerel talks with the Faroes fail to reach agreement

10/12/2010

The latest round of talks to try and reach agreement with the Faroes on mackerel catching arrangements for 2011 have broken down.

These talks were the final opportunity for the EU and Norway to forge an international coastal states management agreement for mackerel. Their failure means that the Faroese will now join Iceland in setting their own unilateral quotas for 2011 in a move that could jeopardise the sustainability of the important mackerel stock in the north-east Atlantic.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “It is unbelievable that after four rounds of negotiations it was not possible to reach an agreement due to the unrealistic demands of the Faroese, and before then, Iceland.

“We would all like more fish but we need to abide by international agreements to ensure that the mackerel stock is harvested responsibly. We utterly condemn the unsustainable fishing practices that the Faroese and Icelanders are now about to embark upon.

“The EU and Norway made the right decision in not buckling under Faroese demands for an unreasonable amount of mackerel. We now call upon the EC to take immediate sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes in the trade of pelagic fish.”

Talks between the EU and Norway will resume tomorrow (10 December) on the setting of international mackerel quotas for their fleets, including Scotland.

 

Hopes that agreement with the Faroese can be reached on mackerel catching this week

08/12/2010

A new round of talks will resume tomorrow (9 December) in Copenhagen to try and reach agreement with the Faroes on mackerel catching for 2011.

The meeting between the EU, Norway and the Faroes follows Iceland’s ‘irresponsible’ step of walking out of the last set of talks without reaching a compromise agreement on mackerel management in the north-east Atlantic to ensure the sustainability of the fishery. Since then, Iceland has declared its intention to set its own unilateral quota of 16-17% of the Total Allowable Catch for 2011 even though it never even participated in the fishery prior to 2005.

Despite this setback, Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, which is a constituent member of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, is hopeful that a three-party agreement can be reached with the Faroes by the end of this week.

“The Faroese are one of our nearest neighbours and have been a long-standing partner in mackerel management for over 20 years. We are encouraged that they are still willing to talk and hopefully this will pave the way for an agreement with other coastal states over the next couple of days. However, whilst reaching a deal is important, it must not be done so at any cost and it needs to ensure that Scotland’s traditional mackerel catching rights are not compromised.

“The mackerel stock in the north-east Atlantic is an incredibly precious resource that requires careful and integrated management to ensure future sustainability and it was extremely disappointing that Iceland took the irresponsible stance of walking out of the last set of talks.”

 

New round of mackerel talks resume this week

24/11/2010

A new round of talks between the EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroes to try and break the impasse in the dispute over mackerel catching opportunities for 2011 will get underway in Oslo this Thursday (26 November).

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, says these crucial talks will provide the last opportunity to try and reach agreement this year.

And he warns that failure to reach agreement will fuel uncertainty in the Scottish mackerel fleet over the amount of fish they will be allowed to catch next year.

“This is the last opportunity this year to try and strike a deal for the 2011 fishery, he says.

“Our fishermen have complex and challenging businesses to run and failure to reach agreement this week will result in great anxiety and make it very difficult for skippers to plan ahead.”

He added: “Any deal must ensure that mackerel is harvested at sustainable levels whilst at the same time protecting the rights of those who have traditionally fished for mackerel in the north-east Atlantic.

“The future of an extremely valuable natural resource is at stake during these talks and it is vital that any agreement does not jeopardise our rightful share of the fishery.”

 

Scottish fishing industry leaders meet Icelandic Ambassador

04/11/2010

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation and Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association, met this morning with the Icelandic Ambassador to the UK, Mr Benedikt Jonsson, to discuss the current mackerel dispute.

At the Aberdeen meeting, which was instigated by the Ambassador and organised by Colin Crosby the Icelandic Consul in Aberdeen, the main topic for discussion was the acutely difficult and unresolved issue of the international management of the North East Atlantic mackerel stock - specifically Iceland's approach of catching a significantly increased quota this year outwith the bounds of any international agreement.

Neither the Ambassador nor the fishing leaders were there to negotiate a solution, but the discussion was useful in providing clarity to the Ambassador of the Scottish industry's strong views on the issue, which reflect those of the EU and Norway in the negotiations.

Speaking after the meeting, Ian Gatt said: "The vital importance of a sustainable mackerel fishery to the Scottish pelagic fleet and the communities it supports was spelled out to Mr Jonsson. Frank views were also exchanged on what constitutes responsible management of this stock".

Mr Armstrong added: "It was very useful to meet an Icelandic representative at Mr Jonsson's level. Clearly, a gap remains between viewpoints but at least we all agreed that an even-handed solution to the dispute is in the best interests of all.

“The end result must protect the interests of the current stakeholders of the mackerel fishery, of which the Scottish fleet is a major player.”

 

Second round of mackerel talks fail to reach agreement

02/11/2010

The second round of talks in London between the EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroes to try and agree a deal on mackerel quotas for 2011 has ended in deadlock.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and its constituent member, the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, are pressing for a deal that recognises Scotland’s historical share of the catch in the north-east Atlantic mackerel fishery, whilst at the same time adhering to the recommended scientific advice on catch uptake so as to protect the stock.

Following today’s failure to reach an agreement, Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association said: “We are bitterly disappointed that no agreement was reached during this second round, given that it proved impossible to accommodate the aspirations of Iceland and the Faroes.

“We are pleased, however, that EU has not given in to the excessive demands from Iceland and the Faroes and has adopted a tough and realistic negotiating stance throughout.”

Although no date has been set for a third round of talks, it is possible that negotiations could resume at the next North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission meeting due to be held in London in 10 days time.

Mr Gatt said: “It is essential than any deal reached must ensure that mackerel is harvested at sustainable levels whilst at the same time protecting the rights of those who have traditionally fished for the species in the north-east Atlantic.”

 

Scottish fishing industry calls for sensible mackerel deal in new round of talks

26/10/2010

A second round of talks between the EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroes will get underway in London tomorrow afternoon (27 October) to try and reach agreement on international mackerel quotas for 2011.

Some progress was made in the first round of discussions two weeks ago with all parties recognising the importance of securing an acceptable deal at the earliest possible opportunity.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and its constituent member, the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, are pressing for a deal that recognises Scotland’s historical share of the catch in the north-east Atlantic mackerel fishery, whilst at the same time adhering to the recommended scientific advice on catch uptake so as to protect the stock.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We are disappointed that a deal was not reached during the first round of talks although we are encouraged that there is the basis for continuing the negotiations into a second round of discussions.

“The current situation with blue whiting, which resulted last week in a massive cut in the quota because of the poor state of the stock, must not be allowed to happen with mackerel.

“All coastal state parties have lost fishing opportunity following the blue whiting cut and this week’s mackerel talks shouldn’t be viewed as an opportunity for making up for this loss of fishing entitlement.

“It is essential than any deal reached must ensure that mackerel is harvested at sustainable levels whilst at the same time protecting the rights of those who have traditionally fished for the species in the north-east Atlantic.

“The future of Scotland’s valuable mackerel fishery is at stake during these crucial talks, and whilst we will continue to press for an early agreement, it must not be achieved at any cost.”

 

Statement on today’s mackerel quota dispute meeting

04/10/2010

Following today’s meeting of Scottish mackerel fishermen in Fraserburgh to discuss the ongoing quota dispute with Iceland, which was organised by the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA) and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation SFF, Ian Gatt, chief executive of the SPFA, said:

“We are encouraged that the meeting between the European Commission and the Faroes at the end of last week seemed to be productive. These initial encouraging signs now need to be turned into positive action by agreeing a sensible outcome during the October negotiation meeting.  The Faroese have informed the EC that they have caught their 85,000 tonnes quota. What we must not do is reward the reckless, irresponsible behaviour of Iceland and the Faroes.

“In the meantime Scottish fishermen will continue to protest against anyFaroese pelagic landings into Scotland until there has been a successful conclusion to the mackerel dispute.

“A key Governmental policy is the protection of our fishing communities.  Fishing communities are made up of many industries including boat building and repair, and many other support sectors. A strong processing sector is also paramount to help add value and deliver the catch to market.

“All these important sectors can only function if there are healthy stocks of fish and an entitlement to sustainably catch these fish. It is Scotland’s fisheries entitlement for mackerel that is under threat and this is why we will leave no stone unturned in our battle to ensure a fair deal is achieved.”

 

SFF to warn EC Fisheries Commissioner that Scottish whitefish fleet is close to breaking point

31/09/2010

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation will tomorrow (1 October) tell European Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki that the Scottish industry has made huge strides in ensuring the sustainable harvesting of fish and that its efforts must be recognised during the decision-making process for fishing opportunity in 2011.

The SFF will tomorrow hold talks with Commissioner Damanaki at a round table meeting in Aberdeen as part of the North Sea Conference that is being hosted by the Scottish Government. The meeting will also include Scottish Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead and UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon.

Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive said: “A key point we want to make to the Commissioner is the huge effort that has been made by the Scottish fleet in ensuring sustainable harvesting. The EC must recognise and reward the considerable sacrifice made by our fishermen by easing the punishing fishing restrictions currently endured.

“A large number of whitefish and prawn boats are teetering on the brink of viability and many segments of the fleet simply will not survive if there is any further tightening of the screw. For fishermen to have faith in fisheries management they must be rewarded for their efforts. At the moment the fishing industry faces increasing restrictions year-after-year despite there being signs of fish stock recovery. The industry can only take so much and the point has now been reached for these restrictions to be eased.”

The SFF will also raise these concerns at a meeting in the Peterhead today with UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon. Also on the agenda at the talks over the next two days will be the current dispute with Iceland and the Faroes over international mackerel quotas. At a presentation to European Parliament Fisheries Committee in Strasbourg yesterday, Ian Gatt of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association said that fishermen’s livelihoods are in jeopardy because of the ‘irresponsible actions’ of Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

“In Scotland, we fear the very fabric of our fishing communities is at stake if the demands of Iceland and the Faroes are fulfilled,” he said.

“We are fighting for the survival of the few remaining fishing communities in Scotland and it is the same situation for all the other pelagic ports across the European Union. A deal is in everyone’ interest, but not at any price, and we must ensure our heritage and fisheries entitlement is simply not given away.”

  • In a move to highlight the importance of mackerel to Scotland, Scottish fishermen will present EC Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki with a box of top quality Scottish mackerel at the Ardoe House Hotel, Aberdeen at 11am tomorrow (Friday 1 October).

 

Scottish fishermen call for strong action on mackerel at Fisheries Council

24/09/2010

At this Monday’s (27 September) AgriFish Council meeting in Brussels, Scottish fishermen will be pressing the European Commission to give a clear signal of intent that strong action will be taken against Iceland and the Faroes if the two countries fail to reach an acceptable deal on international mackerel quotas next month.

A meeting between the EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroes to discuss the mackerel situation is scheduled for 12 October in London. Scottish fishermen and their EU counterparts are urging for a strong negotiating stance to be taken at the talks.

In particular, they want the assurance that Iceland will not be granted access to EU waters to fish for mackerel under any quota agreement. Scottish fishermen are also looking for the EC to follow the lead of Norway in banning the landing of Faroese mackerel into EU ports until the dispute is resolved.

Monday’s AgriFish Council meeting will sound out EU Ministers on the stance they wish to adopt at next month’s talks. Mackerel is the only fishing issue on the agenda at the Council meeting. Scientific advice maintains that the north-east Atlantic mackerel fishery cannot sustain the current level of uptake following the huge unilateral increases in quota imposed by Iceland and the Faroes this year.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “It is essential that a fair and sensible agreement is reached at next month’s talks so as to ensure the future health of the mackerel stock whilst at the same time not jeopardising Scotland’s traditional share of the quota.

“With the support of the Scottish and UK fishing ministers, we are looking for the EC to give a clear indication that they will adopt a tough stance at next month’s talks.”

Meanwhile, Ian Gatt along with Gerard van Balsfoort, the leader of the Dutch pelagic fishing industry, will give a presentation next Wednesday (29 September) to MEPs at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the mackerel crisis.

 

Scots fishermen meet to discuss next stage in campaign to resolve mackerel dispute

10/09/2010

Scottish mackerel fishermen will meet in Fraserburgh this Monday (13 September) to discuss the next stage in their campaign to try and ensure a sensible agreement is reached with Iceland and the Faroes following their decision to unilaterally and significantly increase their mackerel quotas.

The Fraserburgh meeting, which has been organised by the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA) with support from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), will discuss the outcome of bilateral talks between the Faroes and EU negotiators which are due to finish later today (10 September).

It will also discuss the strategy that Scottish mackerel fishermen will adopt should any more Faroese vessels try to land fish into Scotland. Two previous attempts to land mackerel were thwarted by peaceful protests mounted by Scottish fishermen.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the SPFA, said: “It is essential that a fair and equitable deal is reached with Iceland and the Faroes.

“We hope that today’s talks between the Faroes and the EU achieves some kind of breakthrough as it is essential that there is a quick resolution to this dispute. Any agreement must not compromise the interests of the Scottish fleet and also ensure that the mackerel stock is sustainably harvested in line with scientific advice.

“The meeting planned in Fraserburgh for this Monday will be a chance for our members to air their views and discuss the next stage in our strategy.”

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF, said: “There is real anger on the quayside that such an important fishery to Scotland is being threatened by the irresponsible actions of Iceland and the Faroes. We have initiated a range of conservation measures to ensure the stock is in a healthy state and all this hard work could be undone if a resolution is not reached.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish fishing industry briefed MSPs with an interest in fisheries on the latest situation at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh yesterday (9 September).

  • The meeting in Fraserburgh starts at 10am on Monday 13 September and will be held at the Fraserburgh Leisure Centre.

 

Scottish fishing industry to boycott Faroese mackerel meeting

04/10/2010

Scotland ’s mackerel fishermen have joined their fishing colleagues in other EU member states by declaring a boycott of tomorrow’s (7 September) international fisheries meeting in the Faroe Islands because of the current dispute with Iceland and the Faroes over their decision to unilaterally increase mackerel quotas.

The meeting, which has been organised by the Nordic Council, was originally set up to discuss a range of issues affecting the management of the North East Atlantic mackerel and herring fisheries, including economics and management. However, EU mackerel fishermen have unanimously decided to end any co-operation with Iceland and the Faroes until the dispute is resolved.

The Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, which is a constituent member of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, was due to attend the meeting in the Faroese capital Torshaven but has now given its formal notification of withdrawal. Other EU fishing representative organisations have done likewise. It is also believed that there will be no official EC or EU member state representation.

However, the Scottish fishing industry is fully supportive of Struan Stevenson, Senior Vice President of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee, who will attend the meeting in order to highlight the concerns of the EU over the ‘irresponsible’ decision by Iceland and Faroes to significantly increase their mackerel quotas.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We want to send a very clear signal to the Faroese and Icelanders that their dangerous and irresponsible decision to significantly increase their mackerel quotas is not something the international community will tolerate.

“It goes against scientific advice and will have a detrimental impact on a stock that has been looked after and sustainably fished by the Scottish fleet. The irresponsible actions of both nations could undo the years of hard work and sacrifice made by the Scottish industry.

“If Iceland and the Faroes do discuss stock management at tomorrow’s meeting, they will be doing so in a vacuum because none of the major stakeholders in the fishery will be there.

“The only way this issue is going to be resolved is through direct talks. We are committed to ensuring a satisfactory deal is struck, but not at any price. It is particularly important that any final agreement ensures that the mackerel stock is properly protected.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish industry will meet with MSPs in Edinburgh on Thursday 9 September to brief them on the dispute.

 

Stevenson calls for blockade of Iceland and Faroes in ‘Mackerel War’

23 August 2010

Scottish MEP Struan Stevenson has called for an immediate EU-wide blockade of Icelandic and Faroese ships and goods as a row over mackerel quotas escalates.

He has championed the cause of Scotland’s fishermen by writing to the President of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee, Carmen Fraga, calling for Iceland and the Faroes’ fisheries ministers to be summoned to Brussels for talks.

If they refuse, Mr Stevenson has offered to travel with Ms Fraga at the head of a delegation to Torshavn and Reykjavik. In the meantime, he has demanded a ban on Icelandic and Faroese vessels using EU ports and on all imports from the two North Atlantic island nations.

His actions have been welcomed by Scottish fishing groups.

The move has been prompted by Iceland and the Faroe Islands’ refusal to back down after massively increasing their mackerel quotas to 130,000 tonnes and 85,000 tonnes respectively.

The amounts fly in the face of scientific advice and international agreements and could lead to serious over-fishing, causing immense damage to the Scottish fishing industry.

Mr Stevenson said:

“ Iceland and the Faroes are acting just like their Viking ancestors, only this time it’s our mackerel they're plundering.

“So far they have obstinately refused to bring their quotas back down to sensible levels, so I believe the EU must apply maximum pressure to bring them back to the table.

“I have written to Carmen Fraga MEP, President of the Fisheries Committee, calling on her to invite the Icelandic and Faroese fisheries ministers for talks with our Committee in Brussels, or alternatively that she and I lead a delegation to Torshavn and Reykjavik.

“But in the meantime, we should play hardball by closing EU ports to their vessels and banning all imports from both countries. They need to understand the serious repercussions of this selfish and short-sighted action.”

Ian Gatt, CEO of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said:

“Scottish pelagic fishermen are delighted that Struan Stevenson has taken this proactive initiative. Europe must act now to protect Scotland’s most valuable fishery resource. Norway has taken the lead by prohibiting Faroese and Icelandic mackerel catches from entering their country - the Commission must reciprocate this action immediately. 

“The mackerel stock has been sustainably managed for many years ensuring that all those involved in the fishery have benefited. The actions of Iceland and the Faroe Islands could undo all the good work in a matter of months.  We hope Carmen Fraga endorses the request of Struan Stevenson so negotiation talks can commence as soon as possible.”

Bertie Armstrong, Chief Executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said:

"The actions of Iceland and Faroes amount to an abandonment of rational fisheries management. This simply cannot be tolerated by the other states with an interest in continued sustainable catching of mackerel.

“The problems can be solved properly by Iceland and the Faroes returning forthwith to the limits of existing international agreements and nothing less."

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