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Blue whiting worries

FISHING leaders have warned that the north east Atlantic blue whiting stock is under threat, and say uncontrolled catching by Iceland and faroe could be to blame.

The latest scientific advice is recommending a quota of just 40,000 tonnes of the species in 2011.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation says that while European Union vessels base their catch on the science, Iceland and faroe have engaged in ‘free for all’ fishing that could have seen more than 2 million tonnes hovered up in some years.

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SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: “Whilst our knowledge of blue whiting is not detailed and the scientific advice may be unreliable, we do know that the stock is at a low level and that there are very few juvenile fish about. In all likelihood, this has been caused by the irresponsible fishing of countries that have not adhered to a management plan.”

Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association chief executive Ian Gatt added: “This is a stark reminder of what could happen to our mackerel stock if there is uncontrolled fishing and why a sensible agreement needs to be reached as quickly as possible on both blue whiting and mackerel.”

EU fleets have developed higher value human consumption markets for blue whiting whilst other countries have largely been catching the fish for fishmeal production, they said.

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