SCOTTISH fishing boats will be able to access waters around the Faroe Islands for the first time in four years as agreement was reached to end a long-running dispute.
The access, from April 1, will ease pressure on North Sea and west coast fisheries and could be worth around £3 million to the industry, the Scottish Government said.
The agreement follows the conclusion of a mackerel quota deal struck between the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands earlier this week, which made it more likely that Scottish boats would return to Faroese waters.
The dispute was over the size of catches Faroese and Icelandic boats were landing while the EU raised concerns about the risks to remaining stocks.
Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “I welcome the first EU/Faroe agreement since 2010 which will soon allow Scottish fishermen much-needed access to Faroese waters.
“This will bring further security to our industry following the historic international mackerel agreement. For four years they have, through no doing of their own, been denied access to waters and quotas that will now be made available again.
“As an added benefit, this will of course reduce some of the fishing pressure on our North Sea and west coast grounds. This provides significant fresh and new opportunities and perhaps more importantly, some much needed flexibility for vessels deciding where they fish.”
Under the agreement, the catching opportunity offered to the Faroes includes 15,000 tonnes of blue whiting and in return the Scottish fleet will benefit from 2,000 tonnes of white fish, including cod and haddock.
Some in the fishing industry were disappointed with the size of catches Faroese fishermen will be able to land in Scottish waters.
Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We are bitterly disappointed that the Faroes has received access to fish 29% of their own mackerel quota in Scottish waters, which equates to a much higher tonnage than under the previous arrangement.
“Our industry is calling upon the Scottish Government to introduce a robust control and compliance regime that ensures that this access provision is not abused in any way.”