Sanctions against Faroe are to be imposed for its over-fishing of herring, the European Union Fish Council decided in Brussels yesterday.
The move has been welcomed by fisheries leaders, but they say the proposals do not go far enough.
Europe has been under pressure to act against both Faroe and Iceland for their flouting of agreed herring and mackerel quotas.
Although welcoming sanctions against Faroe for over-fishing Atlanto-Scandian herring, fishing leaders now want action to be taken against Iceland.
Chief executive of Shetland Fish Producers Organisation Brian Isbister said: “From a local Shetland industry perspective it’s a start in right direction and we welcome that, but there is more work to be done in relation to the mackerel situation. Implementation of sanctions has been negotiated over a long period of time and we are pleased to see at last EU council has agreed to impose sanctions against Faroe in relation to quota-grabbing. Hopefully this will lead to [sanctions] for mackerel.
“Faroese fishermen were helping themselves to a product which was finding a way into the market we supply. These [sanctions] will hopefully minimise risk of Faroese product replacing our product in the market as it won’t be imported into the EU. It’s a start in the right direction.”
Now he wants ministers and fishing leaders to “sit down and agree a sensible way forward” regarding Iceland and mackerel. He pointed out that Iceland is a “new entrant” into the mackerel fishery, helping itself to the plentiful supplies now found in their waters. Seeing the Iceland “grab”, Faroe followed suit, defying agreements – actions that Mr Isbister said will both affect stocks and established fisheries in Norway and EU member states.
SIC political leader Gary Robinson said: “The European Commission has been slow to act after Faroe and Iceland unilaterally set their own unsustainable quotas for mackerel and herring; however this news is welcome nonetheless.
“Shetland fishermen worked extremely hard in order to gain Marine Stewardship Council accreditation for the mackerel fishery only to see it removed thanks to the irresponsible actions of Faroe and Iceland.
“They must get back around the negotiating table now to discuss sustainable quotas based on sound scientific data rather than their own short-sighted financial and economic considerations.”
He called on the UK and Scottish fisheries ministers, Richard Benyon and Richard Lochead, to maintain pressure on the European Commission to follow through with the sanctions aimed at getting Faroe and Iceland to re-enter negotiations.
More on this story in Friday’s Shetland Times.