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Mackerel Quotas

Volume 525: debated on Thursday 17 March 2011

4. What assessment she has made of the outcome of the recent coastal states discussions in Oslo on mackerel fishing quota; and if she will make a statement. (47196)

The meeting of coastal states in Oslo from 9 to 11 March ended without agreement on the management of the north Atlantic mackerel stock for 2011. This is very disappointing as it puts the future sustainability of this extremely important stock at risk. The positions of the parties involved remain wide apart but we will continue to work with industry, other EU member states and the Commission to find the best possible outcome to this difficult situation.

I hope the Minister shares my outrage at the 150,000 tonnes of mackerel that the Faroese have subsequently unilaterally awarded themselves as a quota for mackerel for next year, and I know he shares my concerns about the jobs that will be affected by that, both in my constituency and in other pelagic areas. As a matter of urgency, will he meet the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association and other key UK stakeholders to discuss this matter further?

I recently met stakeholders and raised the matter this week—yesterday, in fact—with Commissioner Damanaki, when I gave support to her strong call for measures to be taken against the Faroese and neighbouring states that cause so much damage to a sustainable stock. The problems that the hon. Lady’s constituents and others around our coast face are very much our priorities, and we will continue to support strong measures to deal with them.