Scottish fishermen have welcomed an announcement by European Commissioner Maria Damanaki that the EU has notified the Faroe Islands that it intends to impose sanctions in response to over fishing.
The EU says the measures may include restrictions in the imports of herring and associated of species fished by Faroese interests and restrictions on the access of Faroese vessels in EU harbours except for safety reasons.
The notification from the EU is in response to the Faroese move earlier this year to withdraw from an international management plan for Atlanto-Scandian herring and set a unilateral quota at a level 145% higher than their 2012 quota. This was set against a context in which all other parties to the fishery had agreed to reduce their quotas by 26% for conservation reasons.
Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We welcome this move. The fishery is essentially a mixed one with mackerel being caught at the same time and for this reason we strongly believe that mackerel should also be included in the sanction measures.
“This irresponsible and unsustainable over-fishing of our precious shared herring and mackerel stocks cannot be allowed to continue and we urge the Faroese to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, Scotland’s Fishing Minister Richard Lochhead said: “It is good news that at long last we have real movement towards sanctions that will see the irresponsible fishing of Faroe being addressed.
“Our fishermen fully deserve the protection these sanctions will give them. But it is disappointing that no firm action has yet been agreed in relation to Iceland and Faroe consistent over fishing mackerel, and I hope that will come shortly.
“A number of states expressed extreme frustration over the Commission’s lack of action to date, so I am pleased they are taking action.”