The suspension of MSC status for 21 Scottish boats sourcing North East Atlantic mackerel will have a damaging impact on UK exports of the fish, seafood processors have warned.

As The Grocer reports in this week’s print edition (p33) seven mackerel fisheries – of which the 21 boats form part - are to have their MSC status suspended as of 31 March after unsustainable fishing of the stock by Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

The suspensions would have an adverse impact on exports because Scottish-fished mackerel will no longer have MSC as a point of difference, and Scottish prices could be undercut, warned Ian McFadden, chairman of the Scottish Pelagic Processors’ Association . “The concern is that both of these countries have helped themselves to a huge tonnage of mackerel. It’s got to find a home somewhere and they can undercut our prices.” Germany, in particular, was an important market for MSC mackerel which could be a target for Iceland and the Faroes.

McFadden called on the EU to step in to ensure there was no adverse impact on European mackerel fisheries’ exports. “Processors are looking to the European Commission to put some sanctions in place to try and see if we can get Iceland and the Faroes to accept some sense, because if they go out like this, they’ll fish the stock out.” 

The Commission said it was unable to introduce sanctions until the European Parliament and Council of Ministers have adopted enabling legislation to allow it to do so.