The actions of Iceland and Faeroes in setting unilateral total allowable catches (TACs) for mackerel in the North East Atlantic are irresponsible and risk the future sustainability of the stock, which in turn could have serious impacts for the Scottish Pelagic Fleet. I have written twice to Commissioner Damanaki asking her to take a strong stand against the Faroese and Icelanders, and in particular to keep the issue at the fore during Iceland’s EU accession negotiations. Following my first letter, the Commissioner wrote to Commissioner Fule (Enlargement) highlighting the problems and asking him to ensure it was discussed during the accession negotiations.
My second letter was in response to the Faeroese decision to set a TAC far in excess of their previous share. Following this, the Commissioner made a statement condemning the action and outlining possible further action that would be taken against the Faeroes if they did not reconsider their approach during the next round of negotiations. I have now followed up the letters with a phone conversation during which Commissioner Damanaki assured me of her commitment to resolving the issue and that she would work closely with the Scottish and UK Governments.
The Scottish Government will continue to work with the UK, the European Commission and other key European member states to identify how best we can ensure Iceland and Faeroes come back to the negotiating table in order to secure a deal that is fair for Scotland and protects the mackerel stock. Marine Scotland has also made an objection to the Marine Stewardship Council certification of the Faroese mackerel stock. The objection has been accepted by the independent adjudicator and the outcome of her review is awaited.