A pelagic processors association has warned that the UK is set to lose out again as talks get under way on setting next year’s total allowable catch (TAC).
Representatives of mackerel fisheries from the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands have been meeting in Bergen to decide what will follow this year’s huge increase in the north east Atlantic mackerel TAC. The talks are the latest in a series of summits between representatives.
Scottish Pelagic Processors Association (SPPA) has warned they expect to be disadvantaged again as Iceland and the Faroe Islands continue to gain.
SPPA chairman Ian McFadden said: “While responsible measures by the EU and Norway have ensured we have a sustainable mackerel stock, we are increasingly disadvantaged in the global market.
“Earlier this year we saw the Faroe Islands take a much bigger share of the mackerel quota than expected, while also winning the right to fish in Scottish waters when mackerel is in premium condition.”
Mr McFadden said that the Faroese government had introduced new tax measures to discourage landings into Scotland, which meant high quality mackerel is now being processed in the Faroe Islands. The rate of taxation on landings outside Faroe has been set at a prohibitive £200 per tonne, equal to 30 per cent of the current price for fresh mackerel.
“This is of real concern because the Scottish processing industry has always offered a premium product but by setting the taxation rates so highly there is no other logical conclusion than to sail back to Faroe to land their catch. This is a real disappointment to the Scottish processing industry when there has been a willingness from Faroese vessels to land to Scottish processors as they did in the past,” said Mr McFadden.
“Added to this we are seeing others access markets we can’t. The Russian trade embargo has cut off a key market for us and opened it to significant deals with processors in Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
“And now we believe the Faroe Islands are close to a free Trade Agreement with Turkey. This is another good market for mackerel but we are excluded by high import duty.
“While we appreciate these issues cannot be addressed during this week’s TAC negotiations, we urge politicians and representatives in industry to address these unfair trading conditions. Mackerel processing alone is worth over £324 million to the economy and supports around 2,260 jobs.”