New bid for mackerel shares must be countered –

New bid for mackerel shares must be countered Published:  24 September, 2007

A FISHERMEN’S leader has warned that the operators of the UK’s most powerful fishing vessels must be increasingly vigilant over the ambitions of other nations.

Andrew Tait, the chairman of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, was speaking at a dinner in Aberdeen to mark the association’s 75th birthday and the launch of a new booklet marking the work of the association and the 25 years of challenges it has faced between 1982 and 2007.

Mr Tait said the last 25 years had been very much about technological advancement and they were now operating in an era where scientists and the industry were working more closely together. The health of mackerel, their number one stock, continued to be robust although poor herring recruitment continued to give cause for concern, although the reasons for this were unknown. However, the herring worries could not be laid at the door of over-fishing.

An improving attitude to conservation was underlined by the fact that even the Russians had signed up to reductions of total allowable catches in international waters.

However, there were other worries: “This year, we hear about the Icelandic claims that there are large numbers of mackerel in their waters. This is a threat we must be aware of from a nation, which does not have coastal state status and doesn’t have a share of the TAC.

“Meanwhile, greedy Norway seems to be consistently raising requests for more pelagic fish.”

Scottish Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead praised the association’s record and the move towards MSC accreditation was, he said, a “fantastic initiative.”

He pledged that the Scottish Government would work with the sector to maximise the opportunities it must grasp to add as much value as possible to the raw material. The Holyrood Government was also extremely serious about building the health of Scottish nation and the role that pelagic species could play in this.

Meanwhile, he said he was delighted that the association was “extremely comfortable” with the idea that a Scottish minister should take the lead role in fisheries negotiations in Brussels and elsewhere.

“This is something we will continue to campaign for in the weeks and months to come. If does not happen this year, I will be continuing to make sure it happens next year.” is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.