Peterhead's fishing fleet have hit back at Norway's decision on mackerel quotas

Scottish pelagic fishermen have condemned decisions by Norway and Faroe to persist with the unilateral increases in catch quotas for Northeast Atlantic mackerel that they first announced in 2021, calling it a wilful attack on the principles of sustainability required to preserve stocks for future generations.

Each country raised its quota share by a whopping 55% last year and intends to maintain its self-awarded tonnages in 2022.

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

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Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, 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, and is well in excess of what either country’s fleet can catch.

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“They are looking to protect their fleets and allow their vessels to fish as long and as hard as they can. That is not what sustainability is about.

“Norway in particular has always been seen as trading on a good reputation for managing stocks sustainably. This current position tramples all over that reputation.”

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Mr Gatt added: “The UK and European Union are the only ones interested in real sustainability here, and as a result of that we are paying the price while Norway and Faroe mount a smash and grab raid.”

Simon Collins, executive officer of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association, said the British government had to deny access to UK waters to all third countries seeking to catch mackerel – including Norway and Faroe – unless they agree to fair shares of sustainable quotas.

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“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.

“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.

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