Scottish fishermen will once more have access to Faroese waters following the first EU/Faroe fishing agreement since 2010.
From 1st April fishermen will have Faroese fishing opportunities worth an estimated £3 million. According to the Scottish government this will reduce pressure on North Sea and West Coast fisheries. The talks took place after a four year hiatus as a result of the recent mackerel international agreement.
The agreement now adds extra quota for the Scottish fleet. The breakdown for the UK fleet is as follows (in tonnes): cod and haddock – 817; blue whiting – 880; saithe – 696; flatfish – 204; others – 189; redfish – 14; ling and blue ling – 85.5.
Under the agreement, Faroe will have 15,000 tonnes of blue whiting and in return the Scottish fleet will benefit from some 2,000 tonnes of whitefish.
It is thought no Shetland trawlers will be operating in Faroe waters, though some local boats did fish there in the recent past. The renewed access may offer future fishing opportunities however.
Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “I welcome the first EU/Faroe agreement since 2010 which will soon allow Scottish fishermen much needed access to Faroese waters. This will bring further security to our industry following the historic international mackerel agreement. For four years they have, through no doing of their own, been denied access to waters and quotas that will now be made available again.
“As an added benefit, this will of course reduce some of the fishing pressure on our North Sea and West Coast grounds. This provides significant fresh and new opportunities and perhaps, more importantly, some much needed flexibility for vessels deciding where they fish. These EU negotiations with the Faroe Islands are always tricky and involve give and take but our industry now has certainty to move forward.”
Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: “This is good news for our whitefish fishermen, particularly for the larger Scottish boats that have been denied access through no fault of their own to their traditional fishery in Faroese waters. This lack of access had been caused by the Faroese over-catching of mackerel, which was resolved in a painful compromise deal yesterday.”
He added that the opening of EU waters to Faroe would “demand a robust enforcement regime to ensure compliance”.