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Mackerel talks fail again

SCOTTISH fishermen are calling on the European Union to implement sanctions against Iceland and Faroe after efforts to find an agreement on mackerel in the north east Atlantic broke down for the fifth time.

Industry leaders have met in Reykjavik for the last two days, but Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association chief executive Ian Gatt said the Icelandic and Faroese negotiators were not seeking a genuine solution.

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Iceland said on Thursday night that it was looking for a “fair share” taking into account that the mackerel shoals were migrating in large numbers into the Icelandic exclusive economic zone for feeding.

This latest development means that Norway and the EU will now set their quota for 2012 bilaterally, while Iceland and Faroe will set their own quota for the third year running.

Mr Gatt said: “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.

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“Sanctions must now be implemented against Iceland and the Faroes before their summer mackerel fisheries begin.”

Scottish fisheries minister Richard Lochhead added: “It is deeply disappointing and enormously frustrating that we are facing another year without a mackerel deal.

“The lack of progress this week has been very worrying, with the Faroes in particular demonstrating a lack of willing to reach a deal. We now expect Faroes and Iceland will continue with grossly inflated quotas that are all about short-term selfish gain.”

But Icelandic chief negotiator Tomas Heidar said that when it became apparent that no deal would be reached, he proposed that all the parties should reduce their catches in the same proportion this year.

“This proposal was not accepted by the other parties,” he said.

In 2012 the Faroes are expected to set themselves a quota of 150,000 tonnes, similar to the amount the country caught in 2011, 75 per cent up from 2010 and five times more than its 2009 share. Iceland is to set itself a quota of around 45,000 tonnes.

Mr Lochhead added that should Iceland and the Faroes continue with their “opportunistic” quota setting, the mackerel stock in the north east Atlantic would fall below safe limits by 2014.

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