Iceland's mackerel quota cut criticised by Fisheries Secretary

Richard Lochhead disappointed that Iceland will take 'excessively large' share of allowable catch.

Peterhead fish landings and prices

Iceland has been accused of taking an excessively large share of mackerel from the sea, despite its decision to cut its quota for the year.

The North Atlantic country has announced it will reduce the amount of mackerel it takes in 2013 by 15%, the Scottish Government said.

But ministers and fishing industry bodies said the stock will continued to be damaged and they called for further action to manage it in a sustainable way.

The Faroe Islands and Iceland have both set themselves large quotas of mackerel in recent years, prompted by Atlantic populations of mackerel moving further north west into their waters.

Their stance has provoked an ongoing dispute with other countries that target the fish.

Responding to Iceland's decision to cut its quota, Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "It is disappointing that Iceland remains intent on taking an excessively large share of the TAC [Total Allowable Catch], a greater share than Scotland, despite their short history in the fishery.

"This will continue to damage our most valuable stock and an opportunity has been missed to show willingness to help bring this dispute to end. It is now clear that further steps have to be taken to manage this stock in a sustainable manner.

"I believe that the best way this can be achieved is by the appointment of an independent mediator who can facilitate co-operation in an objective and neutral manner. I am also calling on the EU [European Union] to deliver on promised action.

"We await the Faroes' announcement of their quota and I hope they will carefully consider their position, although the best outcome would be for them and Iceland to come back to the negotiating table with realistic proposals on which we can base an agreement."

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association, said: "Whilst Iceland is following the lead of the EU and Norway who have already reduced their mackerel quota by 15%, it is an inescapable fact that Iceland is still taking an excessively large share that is fished unilaterally and outwith any international management plan.

"It is important to highlight that while Iceland's share allocation demands are based on 15% of the total catch, the actual quota they have set themselves is close to 23%.

"This is an issue that can only be resolved by negotiation and the onus is on both Iceland and the Faroes to table a realistic counter offer so as to get the negotiating process rolling again."

Mackerel is worth millions each year to the Scottish economy and is the fleet's most valuable stock.

Last month, conservationists warned that mackerel is no longer a sustainable choice for a regular fish supper, in the face of overfishing of the stock.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said it had removed mackerel, an oily fish packed with omega 3, from its latest version of its "fish to eat" list and it should be eaten only occasionally.

Bernadette Clarke, fisheries officer at the MCS, said at the time: "The stock has moved into Icelandic and Faroese waters, probably following their prey of small fish, crustaceans and squid.

"As a result, both countries have begun to fish more mackerel than was previously agreed.

"The total catch is now far in excess of what has been scientifically recommended and previously agreed upon by all participating countries."

Feedback: We want your feedback on our site. If you've got questions, spotted an inaccuracy or just want to share some ideas about our news service, please email us on

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the Apple store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

Join in: For debate, chat, comment and more, join our communities on the STV News Facebook page or follow @STVNews on Twitter.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.


We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.


Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.


Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.


Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.