LEADERS of the British pelagic industry, worth almost £500 million to the UK economy, have written to the British Frozen Food Federation, demanding that it bar Faroese seafood companies from its membership, following the Faroese decision to set massive mackerel and herring quotas this year.
The call was made after it was revealed last week that Faroe Seafood, part of Bakkafrost, the largest producer of farmed salmon in the Faroe Isles, had re-joined the BFFF.
Last month the European Union announced that it had formally notified the Faroes that it intends to start proceedings that could lead to sanctions against the islands’ refusal to enter into an international agreement on the division of vital North Atlantic herring stocks.
Earlier this year the Faroe Islands withdrew from consultations on the management of the Atlanto-Scandian stock for 2013 and set a herring quota for its fleet which was 145 per cent higher than the 2012 catch.
The EU has announced that the measures may include restrictions in the imports of herring and associated species fished by Faroese interests and restrictions on the access of Faroese vessels in EU harbours, except for safety reasons.
Ian McFadden, chairman of the Scottish Pelagic Processors Association, said: “I am alarmed the BFFF has accepted a membership application from Faroe Group when there is an ongoing high-profile dispute with the Faroe Isles.
“The Faroe Isles continues to award itself a huge share of the mackerel fishery. They have done this without any agreement from the EU and Norway, which have previously worked together under a coastal states agreement to ensure the long term sustainability of the stock. In light of this the Marine Conservation Society recently graded both Faroese and Icelandic mackerel as unsustainable”
He added: “Faroe have now declared a 145 per cent increase on their quotas of Atlanto -Scandian herring for 2013. The other nations that fish this declining herring stock had agreed to each take a 26 per cent decrease from their 2012 quotas.”
Mr McFadden claimed: “Farmed salmon produced in the Faroe Isles is fed on fish meal produced from mackerel, herring and trimmings from processing these fish which means that, through BFFF’s new member, Faroese mackerel and herring will enter the UK food chain. Surely that should be avoided. I have written to the BFFF and really hope they see sense and withdraw Faroe Seafood’s application in support of British mackerel and herring.”