Trade sanctions planned to be in place against the Faroe Islands within a month in response to their over-fishing of herring

Published: by Ann-Kristin Kristoffersen

Following a successful meeting with European Commissioner Maria Damanaki  the EU pelagic fishing industry, which includes Scotland, says it is confident that appropriate trade sanction measures will be imposed against the Faroe Islands within a month from now.

These measures are a direct consequence of the country's irresponsible behaviour in regards to their Atlantic (Atlanto-Scandian) herring fishery. Earlier this year the Faroes stepped outside the long standing agreed management arrangement for the stock and set a quota share more than three times larger than their traditional share (from 31,940t to 105,000t). In response to this massive unilateral quota increase, the Marine Stewardship Council  recently suspended the MSC eco-label certificate for the Faroese Atlantic herring fishery.

The European pelagic industry is also confident that associated species such as mackerel will be included in these sanction measures. In that regard the industry specifically requested that salmon be included in the trade sanctions. The Commissioner took on board that salmon was indeed an associated species as Faroese herring and mackerel are reduced to fish feed for their aquaculture industry.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association, said: "This was a very productive meeting with the Commissioner and moves to impose sanctions are gathering pace. The Commissioner stated her commitment to challenge the irresponsible behaviour of the Faroese which threatens not only the sustainability of an important fishery, but also the livelihoods of those employed within the European fishing sector."

The background for the industry's consistent plea for trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroe Islands lies in their current mismanagement of both the mackerel and Atlantic herring stocks.  Iceland has set an autonomous mackerel quota for 2013 of 123,000t or 22.7% of the science based 2013 TAC (total allowable catch) while the Faroe Islands has set an autonomous mackerel quota of 159,000t or 29.3% of the 2013 TAC. This means that in 2013 both countries will catch 52% of the overall 2013 TAC, whereas only as recently as 2006 their joint share in the mackerel catches was just over 5%.

Atlanto-Scandian herring at the centre of the dispute with the Faroes is a distinct stock of herring that is found in the north-east Atlantic and is separate from North Sea and West of Scotland herring.

Sourse: Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association

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