Faroese talks leave Scottish mackerel fishermen embittered

Published on
December 11, 2015

Unsuccessful negotiations in Copenhagen, intended to reduce access arrangements for Faroese vessels to catch mackerel in EU waters, were met with bitter disappointment by the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA).

According to the association, it has been a long fight for the Scottish pelagic sector when it comes to rebalancing access arrangements, which seem to favour Faroese and thus allow their fleet to ascertain nearly a third of the mackerel quota in EU/Scottish waters. A bilateral deal, established in 2014, between the EU and the Faroese allows the latter “to catch some of their own mackerel and blue whiting quota in EU waters rather than in Faroese waters,” said SPFA.

While the bilateral deal permits EU vessels to catch some of their quotas in Faroese aquatic territory, a study conducted by Seafish claims that the deal delivered no benefit to the UK; the UK vessels did not catch any mackerel or blue whiting in Faroese territory, per Seafish and SPFA.

“We are bitterly disappointed at the outcome of these talks, which we regard as a missed opportunity to rebalance the agreement.

“The agreement continues to favour the Faroese greatly and we don’t understand why the EC failed to press for a fairer access arrangement,” said Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association. “The Faroese are already being rewarded with a larger quota supposedly based on mackerel abundance in their own waters, so why do they need such a generous access share to fish for mackerel in Scottish waters?

“It delivers a negative impact on our valuable processing sector and undermines the Scottish Government’s five-point plan to deal with the current marketing difficulties for mackerel. It also means Marine Scotland Compliance will have a huge burden on its shoulders next year monitoring Faroese fishing activities in Scottish waters,” added Gatt.“The Faroese overshot their mackerel catch in our waters by 1,400 tonnes in 2014, and the one positive element to come out of these talks was that this figure will be deducted from their overall quota in 2016.”

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