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Faroes Anger EU By Increasing Mackerel Quota

Economics +1 more

UK - Scottish fishermen have expressed their anger at the decision by the Faroe Islands to unilaterally set itself a massively increased quota for mackerel this year of 150,000 tonnes.

The move follows the breakdown of talks in Oslo last week in which the Faroes and Iceland refused to accept a compromise deal on catching opportunity from the EU and Norway to ensure a sustainable future for the north-east Atlantic mackerel stock. Iceland had already set itself a unilateral total allowable catch (TAC) for mackerel of around 155,000 tonnes for 2011.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said that if the Faroes had stuck by the Coastal States management plan for mackerel that it previously participated in, then their quota this year should have been 29,700 tonnes.

“In effect they have massively increased their quota by five-fold, which goes against all scientific advice. Their behaviour is grossly irresponsible and puts at real risk a stock that has been carefully nurtured and looked after by the Scottish fleet. If every nation unilaterally increased their quotas five-fold, then there would be no fish left in the sea.

“The Faroese maintain that changes in the migratory patterns of mackerel is behind their decision to increase their quota. However, we totally refute this suggestion as there is no evidence that there has been any change in the movement of mackerel.

“We have already seen the impact of the lack of an international agreement on the blue whiting stock, which has been decimated as a result of a number of non-EU countries such as Iceland and the Faroes engaging in ‘free-for-all’ fishing. The impact on Scottish jobs if the same were to happen to mackerel would be disastrous.

“The situation is so serious that the Scottish Government needs to take charge of the negotiations at the highest ministerial level. In the meantime, Scottish and European fishermen are determined that no Faroese mackerel will be landed into our ports.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation has also expressed its concern at the impact on some parts of the whitefish fleet by the decision by the Faroes to remain outside an international management agreement for mackerel, which will mean a significant number of Scottish whitefish vessels will be denied access to Faroese waters, putting further pressure on an already economically pressured fleet.