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Fresh mackerel negotiations this week

EUROPEAN fishermen leaders will meet commissioner Maria Damanaki on Monday in preparation for mackerel talks with Faroe and Iceland which are due to resume later this week.

Scottish fishermen are worried that the EU might we willing to allow the two island states a larger share in the jointly fished northeast Atlantic mackerel stock on the back of encouraging recommendations from scientists.

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The two sides have been at loggerheads for the last four years after Faroe and Iceland cancelled an international agreement and unilaterally granted themselves massive catch increases.

A compromise deal would reward Faroe and Iceland for piracy, the chief executive of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association, Simon Collins, said last week.

Norway and the Scotland, the largest mackerel fleet within the EU, have historically always caught the lion’s share of the valuable stock.

But Faroe and Iceland argue that the fish have changed their behaviour and are now feeding for longer time in their waters. There is fear that Greenland may also claim a share in the stock.

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Ian Gatt, representing the Scottish pelagic industry said at the weekend that any agreement struck must not compromise his members’ interest.

“We will be telling the commissioner that because of the recent independent science confirming the northeast Atlantic mackerel stock is in robust health that the EU must not be pressurised into rushing into a deal.

“We will remind the commissioner that the negotiating strategy should be pursued jointly with our colleagues in Norway, and that under no circumstances should any agreement contain the provision that would enable Iceland to fish for mackerel off the Scottish coast.

“We will also be telling her of the importance of mackerel to the UK and other parts of the EU, which supports a large number of jobs in the processing and associated onshore industries.

“It would be a tragedy if some of these traditional jobs were lost so as to reward others for their irresponsible behaviour,” he said.

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