Scottish mackerel sector will lose out again, warns industry body
AS representatives of mackerel fisheries from the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands sit down in Bergen to agree next year’s Total Allowable Catch (TAC), the Scottish processing industry has warned they expect to be disadvantaged again as Iceland and the Faroe Islands continue to gain.
The TAC negotiations, which will decide the tonnage of mackerel the combined fisheries are allowed to catch for the year from January 2015, are the latest in a series of summits between representatives.
Ian McFadden, chairman of the Scottish Pelagic Processors Association (SPPA), said: ‘While responsible measures by the EU and Norway have ensured we have a sustainable mackerel stock, we are increasingly disadvantage 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.
‘In tandem with the change in quota, the Faroese government introduced new tax measures to dis-incentivise landings into Scotland, which means high quality mackerel is now also 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.
‘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.’