Industry heads in the pelagic sector have called for an urgent review of Faroese access to EU waters.
In a joint statement the two associations representing Scotland’s pelagic fishing fleet said that the European Commission must review Faroe’s access to EU waters “as a matter of urgency”.
The calls come as industry figures learned that the Faroese Parliament is on the cusp of awarding its vessels significantly higher quotas for key pelagic species without any international agreement.
Faroe has repeatedly been drawn into disputes with the local fishing sector. In late 2015 EU officials fixed a five-year deal allowing Faroese trawlers to take nearly a third of their mackerel catch in EU waters.
This was criticised at the time because it was said that the deal allowed Faroe to catch 30 per cent of its mackerel in waters around Shetland. This was deemed unreasonable given the Faroese justification for the hike in their share was the abundance of mackerel in the Faroese zone.
Executive officer of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association 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.”
Mr Collins’ comments were echoed by Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association.
Mr 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.”
He added: “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.”
Meanwhile, local pelagic skipper George Anderson said that Faroese activities were likely to have a detrimental effect on young people looking to get involved in the industry.
He said: “The one thing I will say about it is that it will prevent young fishermen from getting a start in fishing when you have Faroe just taking what they want and then telling you what they’ve done later.”
Mr Collins later reiterated this point, saying that at a time when the industry is “trying to manage fisheries internationally… one country just taking what they want makes it more difficult.”