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Faroe Islands fish quota condemned

Fishermen have reacted with anger at a decision by the Faroe Islands to set a "massively increased" mackerel quota.

The industry complained that the 150,000 tonnes limit goes against scientific advice and represents "grossly irresponsible" behaviour.

Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead sharply criticised the decision, which follows a series of disagreements over catch quotas between the EU and Norway with the Faroes and Iceland.

The quota also surprised officials in Iceland, who said it was "out of proportion".

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association, said: "In effect they have massively increased their quota five-fold, which goes against all scientific advice.

"Their behaviour is grossly irresponsible and puts at real risk a stock that has been carefully nurtured and looked after by the Scottish fleet.

"If every nation unilaterally increased their quotas five-fold, then there would be no fish left in the sea."

He said blue whiting stocks have been "decimated" as a result of "free-for-all" fishing and warned of a disastrous impact for Scottish jobs, repeating calls that no Faroese mackerel will be landed in Scottish ports.

Mr Gatt said the Scottish Government should take charge of negotiations "at the highest level". The UK Government has responsibility over fisheries as the member state of the EU.

Mr Lochhead said: "This is nothing short of an outrageous mackerel grab by the Faroes, who are determined to seek short-term profit, at the expense of the sustainability of the stock, rather than come to a reasonable agreement with the other nations who share the mackerel fishery."

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