The actions of Faroe and Iceland in increasing their mackerel quotas is, as has been widely pointed out, utterly irresponsible. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has warned that it is likely, within the next two years, to have the effect of rendering a species the fishing of which is currently sustainable, unsustainable.
It is to be hoped that the force of Britain’s and Europe’s displeasure at these developments is being made, diplomatically of course, to Faroe and Iceland. European fish producers called on fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki to introduce sanctions on seafood, and she should indeed be threatening to follow such a course of action.
Shetland’s highly valuable pelagic sector is particularly vulnerable to the loss of MSC status and quota cuts, given that around 90 per cent of the catch is mackerel. In a world where over-fishing is widespread and the threat to the future of many species is only too real, the MSC accreditation was extremely hard won. The prospect of it being revoked is a gloomy one. Sadly, it looks as if we may be witnessing the first skirmishes of a new fish war with Iceland and Faroe. It is to be hoped that they begin to realise that ultimately they too will lose out from over-fishing.