Mackerel fishermen wage war against foreign ‘pirates’

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Mackerel fishermen wage war against foreign 'pirates'

SCOTTISH Fishermen are set to launch a war targeting foreign ‘pirates’ who are fishing in Scottish waters.

As part of the so-called ‘Mackerel Wars’, Scottish trawlermen will be issuing an ultimatum to fishermen from Iceland and the Faroe Isles, warning them to steer clear of Scottish waters.

And backed by European authorities, they will warn: ‘leave our fish alone- or it will cost you millions.’

Mackerel,Scotland’s most valuable fish, was worth over £113million to the economy is 2010 but sinceIcelandand the Faroes decided to increase their own catch in local waters, the industry has started to suffer.

But furious Scots, who said that foreign fishermen were stealing their fish, will now have their voices heard by European fishing authorities.

At a meeting this month,Icelandand the Faroes will be told to reduce their mackerel catch to acceptable levels or they will be forced to face trade sanctions fromEurope.

Scots fishermen leaders have called the current situation ‘an emergency’ and have welcomed the recent move by European regulators.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermens’s Federation, said that the behaviour ofIcelandand theFaroe Islandswas ‘unacceptable.’

He added: “It is verging into piracy forIcelandto fish at this level. If they continue, they will destroy an entire fish stock. We hope the threat of sanctions will help ease the situation.”

Mr Armstrong said he believed that Icelanders were deliberately over-fishing in an attempt to gain concessions fromEurope.

He also predicted that they might agree to catch fewer mackerel in exchange for fishing rights in Scottish waters.

He said: “Everybody would like to catch fish all the time. But that does not work. We have tried that.”

Last year, theFaroe Islandsincreased their mackerel quota from 85,000 tons to 150,000 tons- five times the agreed international limit.

Icelandalso set a similar quota of 147,000 tons.

European fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki will lead negotiations between the two nations, with trade sanctions following quickly if no deal can be agreed.

Rural Affairs and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “We cannot stand back while this valuable stock is plundered.”

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