By JOHN ROBERTSON
Action has been taken to prevent a repeat of the communication breakdown which led to two Shetland boats being fined nearly £48,000 last week for fishing in an area closed by the Faroese.
Shetland Fishermen’s Association chief executive Hansen Black said the process for informing fishing associations of closures had been sorted out by governments and the new system had already been shown to work with notification of the latest Faroese closure this week. “We shouldn’t have an incident like that again,” he said yesterday.
The association is still in talks with the Scottish Government about compensation for the fines levied in Faroe on the Mizpah and Venture.
The European Commission has pointed the finger of blame for the incident at the UK Government for not ensuring the boats were told of the closure after the Faroese had notified all EU member states and the Commission. It is now asking Faroe to take the extra step of informing boat skippers about existing and planned closures when they arrive to enter Faroese waters.
The Faroese are also to be asked to check whether they have the correct details for ensuring that member states are properly informed.
A Commission spokeswoman said Faroe had an obligation to inform it and EU member states about its intentions to close fishing areas and it had done so about the closure which caught out the Shetland boats.
“This information was indeed given directly to the member states as well as to the Commission. It was then up to the member state authorities to ensure that their vessels were fully informed.”
Although Scotland has devolved powers to govern its fisheries the UK Government is the member state Faroe is required to inform. Last week the Scottish Government blamed the Comission rather than London for not passing on information and expressed extreme disappointment that the Faroese coastguard had not bothered mentioning the new closure when permission for the two boats to enter the Faroese zone was sought.