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Call over Iceland mackerel quota

Scottish fishermen have called for the EU to impose trade sanctions on Iceland after the country moved to step up its mackerel quota for the next year.

Iceland has said it will increase its unilaterally declared mackerel quota from 130,000 tonnes to 147,000 tonnes for 2011.

It is the latest escalation in the bitter row over catches with Iceland and the Faroe Islands, dubbed the mackerel wars.

Talks to resolve the dispute with the Faroe Islands broke down last Thursday, while Iceland previously walked out on the discussions in the dispute.

The row was sparked when the countries moved to increase their catch of the fish, absorbing the bulk of the available North Atlantic stock.

Angry fishermen responded by preventing a Faroese vessel from landing fish at Peterhead earlier this year.

Scottish mackerel fishermen have condemned Iceland's decision, branding it "political posturing that could result in serious harm to the health of the stock".

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association, said: "Considering that Iceland never even fished for the species prior to 2005, their decision to significantly increase even further an already grossly over-inflated quota is the height of irresponsibility and could do real damage to a stock that has been sustainably harvested and carefully looked after by the Scottish fleet.

"They have taken this step so as to preserve their percentage share of the total international north-east Atlantic catch based on the quota they set for themselves this year, however, they never even caught the 130,000 tonnes they allocated in 2010 and this moves smacks of desperation and is sheer political posturing.

"Given the amount of mackerel that they took in their own waters in 2010, one has to question whether there will be enough fish left for them to get even close to their 2011 declared quota."

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