Fishermen, processors call for better EU, Faroese mackerel deal


Sean Murphy, SeafoodSource online editor

Published on
November 9, 2015

A bilateral deal between the EU and the Faroe Islands over mackerel fishing rules is up for annual renegotiation, and two Scottish seafood groups are looking to restrict Faroese fishing access to Scottish waters.

The Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association and the Scottish Pelagic Processors Association are both asking for “a more equitable agreement” that keeps Faroese fishermen out of Scottish waters.

“We are not against every part of the overall agreement, especially since its enables some Scottish whitefish boats to access quota held by the Faroese,” said Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association. “It is also desirable to work within international quota arrangements rather than have autonomous quota setting. However, the part of the agreement that is causing us huge concern is the access arrangement for mackerel. This has given Faroe the opportunity to catch over GBP 40 million (USD million, EUR million) worth of high quality mackerel – primarily from within Scottish Waters – which is now being sold into the same markets as our own processing sector, creating marketing difficulties.”

The EU and Faroese governments first signed the agreement in 2014, sharing quota and allowing fishermen from one country to catch mackerel and blue whiting in the waters of another, but the groups are citing a report from Seafish that shows the United Kingdom did not benefit from this agreement in 2014. The report argued that Faroese fisherment caught 93 percent of their annual quotas for both species in U.K. waters, while U.K. fishermen caught none at all in Faroese waters.

“In essence, we have turned their mackerel value from bronze to gold,” said Ian McFadden of the Scottish Pelagic Processors Association. “This access agreement is having a detrimental impact on the profitability of the Scottish processing sector which is a significant direct and indirect employer in Scotland.”

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