THE European Union is finally moving towards imposing sanctions against the Faroes and Iceland in the continuing dispute over the Nordic nations’ decision to set their own quotas for the vital pelagic stocks of mackerel and herring.
The EU Commission is proposing sanctions on the Faroe Islands in relation to herring which could prevent the import of herring into the EU and also ban EU vessels from going to fish for herring in Faroese waters.
Commission officials are also preparing further legal advice on similar sanctions in relation to mackerel against both Iceland and Faroe. They will also seek an early meeting to discuss the situation with the new Icelandic Government.
Speaking from EU Fishing Council in Brussels, where the possible action was discussed by Ministers, Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s Fishing Minister, said: “It is good news that at long last we have real movement towards sanctions that will see the irresponsible fishing of Faroe punished.
“The sanctions discussed today will stop the sale of unsustainably caught herring in EU markets as well as stopping EU boats fishing for herring unsustainably under the Faroese flag. This should help reduce the damage inflicted to date on our fish stocks.”
He continued: “Our fishermen fully deserve the protection these sanctions will give them. But it is disappointing that no firm action has yet been agreed in relation to Iceland and Faroe consistent over fishing mackerel, and I hope that will come shortly.
“A number of states expressed extreme frustration over the Commission’s lack of action to date, so the Commissioner’s movement today couldn’t have come soon enough.”
Mr Lochhead added: “I hope that this action on herring will persuade Faroe and Iceland to get back round the table - with an international mediator if necessary - and agree a long-term deal to ensure future protection of stocks and future viability of Scotland’s fishing fleet.”