LEADERS of Britain’s £500 million pelagic industry today urged the European Union to block the export of Faroese herring and mackerel to Europe.
• Pelagic industry leaders call on EU to block Faroe Islands from exporting herring and mackerel to Europe
• Call comes as Faroese authorities continue to refuse to enter into international agreement on division of herring stock in North Atlantic
The call came on the eve of a vital meeting of the EU Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture which has been called to discuss proposals to implement trade sanctions against the Faroe Islands because of their continued refusal to enter into an international agreement on the division of the North Atlantic herring stock.
Earlier this month, following a meeting of European Fisheries Ministers, the European Commission confirmed that sanctions would be implemented at the end of July unless the Faroese brought forward a suitable plan for the sustainable fishing of the valuable stock. The Commission is also planning to bring forward similar measures against Iceland on mackerel.
Last year Icelandic vessels landed 123,000 tonnes of mackerel while Faroese boats took 159,000 tonnes of mackerel, one of the most important catches for Scotland’s powerful pelagic fleet.
Ian McFadden, chairman of the Scottish Pelagic Processors Association, said: “Mackerel processing alone supports around 2,260 jobs in the UK with several hundred more involved in fishing. For several years now the Faroese and Icelandic fisheries have aggressively increased their quotas of mackerel and refused to negotiate with the EU and Norway, which have historically worked together to ensure sustainable fishing practices.
“This activity is a real threat to jobs in the UK and to the economy of some communities which rely on mackerel and herring as the main source of employment.”
He continued: “We wholeheartedly back the UK and Scottish governments’ support for sanctions that block fresh and frozen landings of herring and mackerel. We can now conclude that other activity to encourage the Faroe Islands and Iceland to agree quotas are proving ineffective and more drastic action is required.“
Mr McFadden added: “While the vote on sanctions against the Faroe Islands is due tomorrow we also believe the EU will soon announce plans for sanctions against Iceland – the sooner this is formalised the better.”
A spokesman for the UK pelagic industry said: “We have today urged the EU to approve trade sanctions on the Faroe Islands to block the export of herring and mackerel to the EU. The Scottish Pelagic Processors Association which represents mackerel and herring processors and has a close relationship with UK pelagic fisherman, also wants to see sanctions urgently imposed on Icelandic fisheries.”