A ‘mackerel war’ with Iceland threatens the future of Scottish fishermen, a Liberal Democrat MEP has warned.
Chairman of the European Parliament’s fisheries committee, Chris Davies, highlighted the issue during a visit to the isles.
Mackerel was for some years caught sustainably by fishing fleets from the EU, Norway, Iceland and Greenland.
But last year ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) scientists advised that the stocks were being overfished and a 20 per cent reduction in catches was agreed.
Now, Iceland has been criticised after declaring, without consultation, that it will increase its share of the mackerel catch from 107,817 to 140,240 tonnes. Greenland announcing an 18 per cent unilateral increase to 70,411 tonnes.
A senior Commission official had told the Icelandic government that its action “demonstrates a lack of interest in contributing to the sustainable management of the stock.”
On Tuesday, Mr Davies met representatives from the Shetland Fishermen’s Association to listen to their concerns.
Speaking after the meeting, Chris Davies said: “Partnership is essential if shared fish stocks are to be managed sustainably. Iceland’s actions are greedy and irresponsible. They are not those of a friendly nation, let alone of a country that is part of the European economic area.
“I welcome the fact that, despite all the talk of Brexit, the European Commission is acting strongly in defence of Scottish fishermen, and I will ensure that this issue is debated as soon as the European Parliament meets again.”
Shetland’s Liberal Democrat candidate for the Scottish Parliament, Beatrice Wishart, added: “It was good to have the chair of the European Parliament’s fisheries committee in Shetland to hear about the relationship with Iceland over mackerel stocks.
“His determination that the Commission follow through on their strong rhetoric when it comes to Iceland is exactly the reassurances our fishing community needs.
“This is enormously important to Shetland. We already know all too well the consequences of a deal done badly, not least because we have had to live with consequences of the last one.
“As Shetland’s MSP, I would continue to work with Chris Davies to ensure the concerns of Shetland’s fishing community is heard both in the European Parliament and at the heart of the Commission.”