Herring caught by Faroese boats from 21 June 2013 onwards cannot be described or sold as MSC certified or carry the MSC ecolabel. The suspension has been put in place because of the decision by the Faroese earlier this year to withdraw from a long-standing international management agreement for Atlanto-Scandian herring and unilaterally treble their quota to 105,000 tonnes.
This was set against a context in which all other parties to the fishery had agreed to reduce their quotas by 26 per cent for conservation reasons. Furthermore, despite the Faroese withdrawal from the management plan, the other countries participating in the fishery still set aside the normal share for Faroes (33,000 tonnes). At present, the suspension has no effect on other MSC certified Atlanto-Scandian herring fisheries.
As well as herring, the Faroes - along with Iceland - is engaged in a long standing international dispute caused by their overfishing of the north-east Atlantic mackerel stock outwith an international management agreement
Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We welcome this move to suspend MSC certification of Faroese caught Atlanto-Scandian herring. Their reckless actions by walking away from international negotiations and then massively increasing their quota should not go unpunished.
“The fact that an independent body deems the actions of the Faroese as being unsustainable and irresponsible should in itself send a clear message that their move to massively increase their herring quota has no rational justification whatsoever, and that such behaviour will not be tolerated by the responsible international fishing community. The market should heed this decision and only source Atlantic herring from those countries involved in sustainable fishing practices and boycott Faroese herring.
“We also urge the European Commission to take note of the MSC suspension and implement their own immediate action by bringing into play trade sanctions against the Faroes for their overfishing of both herring and north-east Atlantic mackerel.”