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Marine / Fishermen float radical proposal to stop unsustainable mackerel fishery

SHETLAND Fishermen’s Association (SFA) has called on the government to consider denying access of fishing vessels to UK waters which are involved in catching mackerel in an unsustainable way.

It comes as Scottish pelagic fishermen condemn decisions by Norway and Faroe to persist with the unilateral increases in catch quotas for Northeast Atlantic mackerel which they first announced in 2021.

Both countries raised its quota share by 55 per cent last year and they intend to maintain this in 2022.

Despite mounting pressure to ban Russian vessels from its waters while it wages war in Ukraine, Faroe has been transferring 13,000 tonnes of mackerel quota that it cannot catch to the Russian fleet.

Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association has called the move a wilful attack on the principles of sustainability required to preserve stocks for future generations.

Its chief executive Ian Gatt said: “This is a disgraceful move by Norway and Faroe.

“The term quota implies some sort of constraint on the amount of fish caught, but this is not so much a quota as a target, well in excess of what either country’s fleet can catch.”

Simon Collins, executive officer of the SFA, said the only way to respond was to deny access to UK waters to all countries seeking to catch mackerel unless they agree to fair shares of sustainable quotas.

“Access to UK waters is a vital aspect of this, because the value of mackerel is at its highest when it is around our shores due to the quality of the fish at this stage in their migration,” he said.

“That denial of access is the only way we are going to get Norway, Faroe, Iceland and others to agree a sharing arrangement based on where the fish actually are.

“Setting quotas well in excess of what sustainable management requires is irresponsible and short-sighted.”