Scots fishermen have expressed severe disappointment at the lack of progress from talks that finished in London yesterday (Tuesday) over quota shares of Atlanto-Scandian herring.
The EU, Norway, Iceland and Russia were seeking to find an agreement to resolve the massive over-fishing of the stock by the Faroese.
It follows their move earlier this year to step outside the long-standing agreed international management arrangement for the stock and set a quota share more than three times larger than their traditional share from 31,940t to 105,000 tonnes.
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: “While there was an agreement of sorts to set up a scientific working group, this still has to be finalised by Iceland and Russia who need to go back to their governments to seek final approval.
“In any case, a scientific working group is hardly a significant step forward and will do nothing to resolve the issue in the short-term.
“But what was particularly astonishing was that despite the requests by the EU, Norway, Iceland and Russia for the Faroese to table an offer of a new and more realistic quota level, this was not forthcoming from the Faroese and they had absolutely nothing to offer.
“Even more worrying was the fact that they gave no assurances that they would not set a high unilateral TAC next year.
“The Faroese also gave a scientific presentation as to why they think they should have a larger share of the quota, which was based on only extremely limited data from the month of May and which took absolutely no account of the fish biomass and migratory movements during the rest of the year.
“The Norwegians quite rightly rejected this data as being scientifically flawed.
“In short, the actions of the Faroese to suddenly withdraw from an international fisheries agreement for herring and then set a unilateral quota that is more than three times their traditional share is an act of extreme irresponsibility.
“Such a move is totally unsustainable and unjustifiable, especially since the Faroese have presented absolutely no credible scientific evidence as to why they should take such a huge share of the quota.”