Mackerel sanction plan is adopted by European Parliament

image captionThe most valuable stock for the Scottish fleet is mackerel

The European Parliament has voted for a range of sanctions against Iceland and the Faroe Islands over the long-running mackerel dispute.

The island nations have been criticised for declaring huge catches of the valuable fish in recent years, leading to fears for its sustainability.

The measures include banning the import of mackerel and other fish from both countries.

Mackerel is the Scottish fishing industry's most lucrative fishery.

Landings of the fish were worth £164m in 2011 - about a third of the Scottish total.

In 2010 both Iceland and the Faroes announced large increases in quotas.

'Meaningful negotiations'

Negotiations since had been unsuccessful.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association, said: "We welcome today's vote by the European Parliament, although it is essential that the European Commission now moves quickly to implement the measures.

"This is the third straight year without an international agreement on mackerel, which means the sustainability of this valuable fishery is being jeopardised.

"Hopefully, today's vote will help ensure that Iceland and the Faroes recognise the seriousness of the situation and at long last they will return to the table to engage in meaningful negotiations."

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "This is a welcome development and I hope it leads to the European Commission introducing meaningful and effective sanctions as soon as possible against states that fish unsustainably and outwith international agreements.

"However, past experience shows that the wheels of progress turn very slowly in Europe, therefore we need the EU to demonstrate greater urgency."

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