SCOTTISH fishing industry leaders and the Holyrood Government today welcomed the announcement that the European Union has 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.
Scotland’s Fishing Minister Richard Lochhead said:”It is good news that at long last we have real movement towards sanctions that will see the irresponsible fishing of Faroe being addressed.
“These unprecedented sanctions include banning of landings and imports of herring and associated species, banning of EU boats reflagging to Faroes, banning the export of equipment to Faroes that would enable herring fishing.”
He added: 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 I am pleased they are taking action.
“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.”
Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We welcome this move by the European Commission in response to the Faroese over-fishing of Atlanto-Scandian herring.
“The fishery is essentially a mixed one with mackerel being caught at the same time and for this reason we strongly believe that mackerel should also be included in the sanction measures. Farmed salmon should be incorporated too because they are fed with fishmeal made from both herring and mackerel.
“If these sanction measures don’t resolve the issue over a relatively short time, then they should be broadened to include all fishery products. This irresponsible and unsustainable over-fishing of our precious shared herring and mackerel stocks cannot be allowed to continue and we urge the Faroese to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible.”
The stock of Atlanto-Scandian herring is fished by Norway, the Russian Federation, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and the European Union.