Scottish fishing chiefs have called for an “urgent” review of Faroese access to EU waters amid growing fears of a unilateral quota grab by the Nordic island nation.
According to the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA) and Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA), Faroe is on the cusp of awarding its boats “significantly higher” quotas for key pelagic species without any international agreement.
It reignites a long-running and at times tempestuous battle with both Faroe and Iceland over jointly managed pelagic stocks such as mackerel and herring.
The two countries have a track record of refusing to sign up to internationally-agreed catch limits on the basis that global warming has shifted more fish into their waters.
Their behaviour a few years ago was at the heart of the so-called mackerel war with countries including Scotland, Ireland and Norway whose pelagic fishermen believed their livelihoods were in jeopardy.
In 2010, a Faroese boat was prevented from landing its catch at Peterhead amid fears Iceland and Faroe were jeopardising the sector.
The two associations representing Scotland’s pelagic fleet have now called on the European Commission to review Faroese access to EU waters “as a matter of urgency”.
SPFA chief executive Ian Gatt said: “By grabbing additional quotas for species such as blue whiting and Atlanto-Scandian herring this year, Faroe continues to make a mockery of sustainable international fisheries management.
“The move is unjustified by science or any pretence at agreement. How the European Commission can stand idly by while Faroe takes such an irresponsible attitude is beyond us. It needs to review access arrangements at once.”
The demand follows observations made of Faroese vessels conducting false pair trawls in Scottish waters in recent days. It is thought these may be aimed at improving the track record of boats in advance of new quota awards.
SFA chief executive Simon Collins said: “Having granted Faroese boats access to our waters, the least the EU could do is keep track of what they are catching and where, with proper inspections of port control arrangements in Faroe.
“Not for the first time, we have a rogue state abusing access to our waters. The fact that these same vessels can now look forward to significantly higher quotas without any scientific justification only adds insult to injury.”