SCOTTISH pelagic skippers are set for a massive increase in their mackerel catches next year, following the publication of latest scientific advice by international marine scientists.
The annual advice from ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Seas) states the recommended total allowable catch (TAC) for mackerel should rise to 889,886 tonnes in 2014 – an increase of two thirds from the advice last year.
But the full impact on Scottish quota will not be known until conclusion of coastal states negotiations later this month. These negotiations will include the Faroes and Iceland who have refused in recent years to enter into an agreement on the division of the catches.
Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Fisheries Secretary, said: “The increase in quota advised for 2014 is tremendous news for the Scottish fishing industry and indeed the stock itself, despite the irresponsible fishing actions of others. As well as providing additional fishing opportunities for vessels it gives us a chance to secure a much brighter future for the management of this stock, which has been mired in dispute for the last few years.
“Mackerel is our most valuable stock worth £131 million to the Scottish economy last year and with the flourishing of the stock there is a clear opportunity for this to increase. Scottish fishermen lead the way in developing sustainable and environmentally friendly fishing practices for the future conservation of our fish stocks.”
He added:”This scientific advice also provides a fresh opportunity to try and resolve the on-going dispute with Iceland and the Faroes. This can inject a new impetus in the negotiations, and we will continue to make every effort to reach a settlement with Iceland and the Faroes over shared fish stocks.
“We hope they bring forward reasonable and fair proposals. We all need to be flexible in our approaches in order to seize this opportunity. We are willing to do a deal but not at any price and any deal must protect Scotland’s interests.”