European Parliament could take action in mackerel fish row

Image caption The wrangle is over controversial Icelandic and Faroese mackerel catches

The European Parliament's fisheries committee has not ruled out direct action against the Icelandic and Faroese fishing fleets.

At a Brussels meeting, members discussed the ongoing row over rights to fish mackerel in the north Atlantic.

The committee has also agreed to send a representative to the International Conference on mackerel being held in the Faroes next week.

The meeting came after a Faroese vessel was blockaded by Peterhead fishermen.

They are angry boats from the Faroes and Iceland are fishing much larger amounts of mackerel in their own waters and trying to land them in Scotland.

MEPs will be determining their response to the situation.

Scottish fishermen say the actions of the Faroese and Icelandic crews will lead to a depletion of mackerel stocks.

Scottish Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson said ministers from the Faroes and Iceland should go to Brussels to thrash out the problem.

And he said that if they refuse a delegation should be sent to the two nations before the dispute escalates further.

He added: "Iceland have actually caught 100,000 tonnes of mackerel, this is no longer a threat to increase their quota by a vast amount, they've actually landed over 100,000 tonnes of mackerel this year.

"If we go ahead in Scotland and catch our entitlement it means about a third of the total stock of north Atlantic mackerel will be killed in one year."

Mr Stevenson has already called for an EU-wide blockade of Icelandic and Faroese boats and goods amid the wrangle over quotas.

He said Iceland and the Faroes were "acting just like their Viking ancestors" by "plundering" stocks.

Last year mackerel brought £135m into the economy, making it the Scottish fleet's most valuable fish.

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