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Anger as Iceland sets mackerel quota

CALLS for sanctions against Iceland and Faroe have grown after Iceland this weekend announced it was unilaterally increasing its mackerel quota to 147,000 tonnes.
Scottish fishing secretary Richard Lochhead has joined the country’s fishing leaders in condemning the move, saying that it threatens the future of the fleet’s most valuable stock.
Last year Iceland caused anger by catching 130,000 tonnes of mackerel outside of any international agreements. Last month the country’s negotiators walked out of talks with the European Union and Norway and at the weekend announced it was going to catch even more mackerel in 2011.
Mr Lochhead said:  “This decision by Iceland to not only repeat their moves for 2010 in setting a massive unilateral quota but to increase it even further, represents a flagrant disregard for fisheries conservation and international opinion.
“It is now more important than ever that the international community stands together and takes strong action before it is too late for one of Europe’s biggest and most valuable stocks.
“We have a commitment from the EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki to take strong action against Iceland – and the Faroes – and put in place the necessary tools to apply meaningful sanctions.
“The valuable mackerel fishery – worth £135m to the Scottish economy in 2009 – has been sustainably managed for the past 10 years by Scottish fishermen, as well as others across the EU and Norway.  Firm action is vital or the irresponsible practices of Iceland may lead to the demise of this fishery.”
Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association chief executive Ian Gatt added: “Considering that Iceland never even fished for the species prior to 2005, their decision to significantly increase even further an already grossly over-inflated quota 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
“They have taken this step so as to preserve their percentage share of the total international north-east Atlantic catch based on the quota they set for themselves this year, however, they never even caught the 130,000 tonnes they allocated in 2010 and this moves smacks of desperation and is sheer political posturing.
“Given the amount of mackerel that they took in their own waters in 2010, once has to question whether there will be enough fish left for them to get even close to their 2011 declared quota.
“It is now more essential than ever that the EU imposes trade sanctions on Iceland in response to their irresponsible behaviour.”