Scotland's fishing industry faces 'challenging 2011'

Mackerel A row over how much mackerel can be caught has still to be resolved

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The fishing industry faces one of the most challenging years in its history, according to Scottish Fishermen's Federation chief Bertie Armstrong.

He said a row with Iceland and the Faroes over mackerel catches remained to be resolved.

The SFF will also push for changes to European rules on how fish stocks are managed.

Mr Armstrong said many of the problems affecting the industry were "embedded" in regulations that govern it.

The so-called "mackerel wars" over how much of the fish can be taken by various countries has placed Iceland and the Faroe Islands at odds with the European Union and Norway.

Mackerel is the most valuable stock to the Scottish industry.

Starting last summer, the row saw the Faroese vessel, Jupiter, blockaded for a time by Peterhead fishermen.

SFF chief executive Mr Armstrong told the BBC Scotland news website tough action was needed to bring an end to the dispute.

He said: "2011 is going to be one of the most challenging that the Scottish fleet has ever faced in its history.

"The situation with Iceland and the Faroes is absolutely unsatisfactory with regard to the behaviour of these two nations and that must change through sanctions on their fish sales."

Mr Armstrong said the SFF would also continue its push for changes to EU regulations.

Scottish fishermen face deep cuts in catch quotas after all-night EU Fish Council talks in Brussels in December.

Meet quotas

The west coast is hardest hit, with 25% reductions in catch sizes for cod, haddock and whiting.

There were some successes for the Scottish negotiating team, with proposed reductions to other species scaled back.

Mr Armstrong said the amount of fish discarded, or dumped, to meet quota rules was one area that needed to be tackled.

He said: "A feature of the year will be discards and what to do with discards and a lot of this is embedded in the regulations.

"Their heart is in the right place but perversely the affect of the regulations is not to increase sustainability and decrease discards, but almost in some cases the reverse."

He added: "That tends to be the hallmark of 2011 - a serious change to the rules to make them fit better."

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