Politics

Mackerel spat! Scottish fishermen demand boycott in fury at Norway and Faroe Islands

Eustice says UK in ‘final stages’ of fishing quota negotiations

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The Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association and the Shetland Fishermen’s Association have also raised concerns about Norwegian and Faroese vessels catching fish in British waters and selling their produce in UK supermarkets. Both groups are now calling on retailers and food suppliers to stop sourcing Norwegian and Faroese mackerel.

They are lobbying the North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group (NAPA), a collective of retailers and supply-chain businesses with a commitment to sourcing sustainable seafood.

Figures from the Norwegian Government shows it caught just over 69 percent of its mackerel in its own exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and 21 percent in the UK EEZ in 2017.

However, by 2020, these figures were 15.7 percent and 84.3 percent respectively.

Overall, Norway and the Faroe Islands have both increased their mackerel quota shares by 55 percent.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association said: “Since its inception, NAPA has confined its actions to writing letters to coastal states.

“With this escalation by Norway and Faroe, we are way beyond the point of letters having any impact.

“It is now time for NAPA members to come off the fence and take direct action by ending the sourcing of mackerel from these two countries in their retail supply chains.”

Mr Gatt also called for immediate action for quotas to be reduced.

He added: “Norway is an advocate of zonal attachment, where fishing quota is associated with where the fish actually are.

“But in recent years Norway has been catching less mackerel in its own waters and more in UK waters, as our members can testify from the increased presence of Norwegian vessels.

“On that basis, it should be reducing its quota share, not increasing it.”

Simon Collins, executive officer of Shetland Fishermen’s Association, said: “Faroe catches a bigger proportion of its mackerel in UK waters than in its own (52 percent to 45 percent last year).

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“It has also transferred or swapped around a fifth of its mackerel quota for other fish stocks in the past four years so can have no need for additional fish.

“This is an outrageous move by these countries, and it needs to be addressed urgently by NAPA and by government at the highest level.”

It comes as Scottish fishermen are already reeling from the impact of COVID-19 and Brexit with seafood industry body Seafish saying operating profits across the UK fleet fell by nearly one-fifth (19 percent) in 2020, to £214million.

Meanwhile, turnover which had been above £1billion in each of the previous three years fell by 17 percent to £843million.

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