Anger in Shetland over mackerel talks deal –

Anger in Shetland over mackerel talks deal Published:  13 March, 2014

FURIOUS fishermen in Shetland have condemned the deal to award a huge increase in mackerel quota to Faroe.

They said they were ‘bitterly disappointed’ with the European Commission for failing to protect the long-term interests of the UK’s pelagic fleet.

Simon Collins, executive officer of Shetland Fishermen’s Association, which represents one third of Britain’s pelagic vessels, said: ‘Quite simply, this deal has rewarded Faroese piracy – and fishermen in Shetland are disgusted with the size of the reward.

‘Yes, our boats will get an uplift in their own mackerel quotas in the short term, but we are not to be bought off in this fashion. The European Commission has not understood that Shetland, like all other successful fishing communities, has a long-term view.

‘The fact is that a vastly reduced quota share seriously compromises the outlook for future generations, as the mackerel stock could contract as well as expand in the course of its natural cycle.

‘This is a deeply ironic outcome, as much of the mackerel we catch is found very close to our shores. This fishery is far more important to Shetland than it ever was to Faroe.

‘Yet unelected bureaucrats in Brussels led by an irresponsible Fisheries Commissioner have been given free rein to betray our community. This cavalier treatment of the UK’s most valuable catch is shameful.’

Mr Collins added: ‘We are also angry and frustrated at the Commission’s behaviour over recent months. If they had been much firmer from the outset, we might have achieved a much better deal.’

On the EU-Norway quota deal, Mr Collins said it was pleasing that after years of cuts there would be a five per cent increase in the cod quota.

‘It’s not long ago that we heard talk from certain quarters that there were only 100 cod left in the North Sea, so it is good finally to have official recognition of what we have been saying for a long time now – that there is a huge amount of cod off our shores.’

However, he voiced his disappointment at cuts in quota for other key species such as haddock, whiting and saithe.

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