Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead has hailed the tri-partite deal on mackerel between the EU, Norway and Faroe as potentially worth an extra £83 million to the Scottish pelagic fleet.
He said the agreement, reached after a four-year-long dispute with Faroe and Iceland, would “bring welcome relief to the Scottish fishing industry.”
But Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said the deal was a “shambles” and accused the European Union of settling a “grubby compromise” that had rewarded Faroe for four years of “illegal fishing”.
Mr Lochhead said yesterday: “There have been times when any agreement seemed far away but we have been clear that any deal would need to be good for the Scottish industry. I believe the increase in almost 100,000 tonnes of mackerel quota will bring much needed certainty over the next few years and allow businesses to plan ahead.”
He said the white fish industry still faced significant challenges, with the fleet enduring cuts to quotas while at the same time working towards a landing obligation and reducing discards.
But he welcomed the end of talks that yielded a five per cent increase in cod quotas, which was less than hoped for, but put an end to a “nonsensical cut proposal” that would have increased discards.
“I am pleased that the negotiations managed to significantly mitigate reductions in some of our key traditional stocks of haddock and whiting,” he added.
He urged Iceland to join the agreement and “allow the international fishery to be properly and sustainably managed.”
But Mr Scott said the European Commission had sold out local fishermen in a move that was also condemned by Shetland Fishermen’s Association.
Mr Scott added: “Fishermen always feared a European sell out and it has now happened. Shetland has a third of the UK pelagic fleet but that does not matter to Europe. All they cared about was a grubby compromise which means that a nation who breaks an agreement on international quotas and fishes with impunity is then rewarded for that action. How can that be anything other than a complete failure of the European Commission to stand up for what is right?
“This is yet another sobering lesson in all that is wrong over fisheries management. The real lesson for Shetland would appear to be that we must work out what we want and then act accordingly. After all that is what Faroe has done with remarkable success. Europe wrings its hands and then caves in. What a shambles.”