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Scottish fishers demand tougher action from retailers over Nordic mackerel

Scottish fishers
Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association chief executive Ian Gatt.

Scottish fishers have called on retailers and food suppliers to stop sourcing Norwegian and Faroese mackerel after the two countries unilaterally increased their quota shares.

The Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA) and Shetland Fishermen’s Association demanded action by members of the North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group (Napa), which is committed to sustainable quota shares.

Within the past week Norway and Faroe have both increased their mackerel quota shares by 55%.

SPFA chief executive Ian Gatt said: “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.

“Norway’s own figures show that in 2017, it caught just over 69% of its mackerel in its own exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and 21% in the UK EEZ.

“In 2020 those figures were 15.7% and 84.3% respectively – a very large swing. On that basis, it should be reducing its quota share, not increasing it.”

SFA executive officer Simon Collins said: “Faroe catches a bigger proportion of its mackerel in UK waters than in its own – 52% to 45% last year.

“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.”

Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins

‘We are way beyond the point of letters having any impact’

Mr Collins added: “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.”

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