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More mackerel talks needed

A FRESH round of mackerel talks will resume later this months after talks this week came to an end on Thursday with no resolution.

Faroe, Iceland, Norway and the EU are reported to continue to be miles apart in how to settle their dispute of quotas, but some progress has been made.

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Earlier this year Faroe and Iceland set their own mackerel quotas which were significantly higher than in previous years.

Both countries say mackerel stocks have changed their migratory pattern and are now their territorial waters for longer and in larger shoals.

Scotland argues that the unilateral setting of quotas by the Faroese and Icelandic authorities undermines the wellbeing of the local pelagic industry which is worth around £135 million a year.

Speaking after the talks broke up on Thursday, Scottish fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead said he was pleased that the meeting had been constructive.

“Inevitably there are a number of difficult issues to address; therefore it is not surprising that the situation has not been resolved within three days. Indeed, a second round of talks has always been planned.

“What is critical is that these talks ultimately result in a new deal, which is fair for Scotland and protects the mackerel stock in the long term.

“The situation with blue whiting acts as a stark warning to all parties as to what can happen if we do not get an agreement. We have seen the decimation of that stock following years of overfishing due to the absence of an international agreement.”

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