Scots fishermen react to EU trade sanction lift

The EU may have lifted trade sanctions on herring and mackerel against the Faroe Islands signaling the end of the “Mackerel Wars,” but at least one fishermen’s group is not ready to bury the hatchet just yet.

The Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association issued a statement cautioning the EU to “ensure that the Faroese are not rewarded for their unsustainable fishing practices.”

The EU announced on 11 June that it was lifting trade bans on herring, allowing Faroese fisheries to export herring to the EU, and for EU vessels to fish for herring in Faroese waters once again. A spokesman for the European Commission confirmed to SeafoodSource that the EU is also lifting its ban on mackerel to the Faroes.

The lifting marks the end of a lengthy dispute over herring and mackerel quotas between Iceland, the Faroes, the EU and Norway. The EU levied the sanctions in August 2013, with threats to do the same to Iceland if they didn’t stop overfishing both stocks. Both countries have since worked out an agreeable set of quotas for both species, but the association’s statement, also released on 11 June, reiterated that the Faroes were hit with sanctions in the first place because it set “vastly inflated” local quotas.

Ian Gatt, the association’s chief executive, said he was concerned that since the Faroes chose to fish at higher levels than was acceptable before, there is a risk that they will simply fish beyond any new quota set now.

“This year the scientific advice states that 419,000 metric tons (MT) can be caught amongst all the coastal states, which would give the Faroes a share of 21,500 MT,” Gatt said. “If the Faroese set themselves a quota higher than this, then the clearly the EC will have made a huge mistake in removing its sanctions lever.”


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