Shetland fishing leaders have called for Faroese boats to be banned from EU waters after reports that a vessel from the islands “hid” some of its mackerel catch.
It is the latest flare-up in a long-running dispute over access arrangements agreed by the EU and Faroe in 2014.
Scots mackerel fishers say the deal is heavily skewed in favour of Faroe, while Fishing Minister Richard Lochhead has previously called the situation “unacceptable”.
Shetlanders are angry about claims that a Faroese boat grossly under-reported mackerel, which was allegedly mixed into blue whiting landed in Skagen, Denmark last week.
They are now demanding tough action amid fresh concerns about mackerel catches to the west of the islands.
Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins said: “The UK and Scottish governments and the European Commission need urgently to suspend Faroese access to review the current arrangements.
“There remains considerable anger in Shetland and elsewhere in Scotland over the amount of mackerel Faroe is permitted to catch.
“But it seems that even this is not enough and now their vessels are allegedly disguising landings of fish caught to the west of Shetland.
“Talk about giving an inch and taking a mile – they were given a mile and now they are taking 20. This has to stop. We want a fair and well-managed fishery.”
Scottish pelagic fishers – catching mainly mackerel and herring – ramped up calls for a re-negotiation of access arrangements affecting them in light of a study by trade body Seafish last year.
It showed Faroese boats caught more than 40,000 tonnes of mackerel in EU waters, overshooting their quota by 1,400 tonnes, in 2014. UK boats caught no mackerel or blue whiting at all in Faroese waters that year.
A bombshell blue whiting deal struck between the European Commission and Norway last December was a further blow for Scotland’s pelagic fleet.
Scots fishing leaders complained at the time that it gave Norway a disproportionate share in the jointly managed North Sea fishery.