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Scott renews call for sanctions

| Written by Shetland News

SHETLAND MSP Tavish Scott has again called for sanctions against Iceland and Faroe after the two island states pulled out of international fishing agreements for mackerel and Atlanto-Scandian herring.

Scott was furious on Monday after a spokesman for the EU’s fisheries commissioner said Europe was pressing for further international talks.

He said: "What happened to the EU's commitment to sanctions against Iceland for overfishing?

“Sadly it now appears that the EU has thrown in the towel. They were correctly prosecuting the introduction of sanctions against both Iceland and Faroe for illegal fishing.

“But this now seems to have been dropped in favour of hosting yet more talks that have so far achieved nothing.

"Our fishermen are prosecuted if they do not comply with internationally agreed quotas. So why is it one rule for our boats and another for others?"

His comments came just days after Iceland unilaterally reduced the country’s 2013 quota for mackerel by 15 percent to 123,182 tonnes, a move that infuriated Scottish politicians and fisheries leaders.

The Icelandic industry minister Steingrímur J. Sigfússon said last week “Iceland is taking fewer mackerel from the sea in 2013. The 15 percent reduction in the weight of our catch aligns with the recommendations from international scientific experts.

“Our 2013 mackerel quota continues our efforts to help preserve the mackerel stock, which is our top priority,”

Chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, Ian Gatt, responded: “Whilst Iceland is following the lead of the EU and Norway who have already reduced their mackerel quota by 15 per cent, it is an inescapable fact that Iceland is still taking an excessively large share that is fished unilaterally and outwith any international management plan.”

The two Scandinavian island states are at loggerheads with the EU and Norway over fishing rights in the northeast Atlantic, after Faroe and Iceland bumped up their share in mackerel stocks a few years ago.

While the EU, and with it Scotland, say Iceland and Faroe are in breach of international agreements, the two island states maintain the changed migration pattern of the fish has to be reflected in larger quota allocations to them.

In January, Faroe also withdrew from the international agreement on Atlanto-Scandian herring.