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Faroe herring grab

| Written by Shetland News

THE FAROE Islands are to catch up to 105,230 tonnes of Atlanto-Scandian herring this year, around three times as much as in previous years.

The autonomous island group withdrew from an international sharing agreement in January this year to pursue it own national interest.

The move follows on from the long running row over valuable mackerel quotas resulting in the collapse of a long-standing multinational agreement in 2009 and the threat of overfishing. Faroe has meanwhile set a national mackerel quote of 159,000 tonnes for 2013, 29.3 per cent of the scientifically recommended total allowable catch.

Atlanto-Scandian herring is a much less valuable species for Scotland, which has a quota of just 8,000 tonnes out of a 619,000 tonne total allowable catch in the north east Atlantic.

Under the old agreement the Faroese share would have been 32,000 tonnes, a quantity that does not reflect the “centre of gravity of the distribution” of the stock, according to the Faroese fishing minister Jacob Vestergaard.

“This change in the herring migration pattern has had a clear impact on the distribution and abundance of herring in Faroese waters which has resulted in an increased proportion of the population feeding in Faroese waters,” Vestergaard said.

“It is also evident that the Atlanto-Scandian herring is now in Faroese waters for a longer period than previously seen.

“I am firmly convinced that the old sharing arrangement among the coastal states regarding Atlanto-Scandian herring was and is totally unfair and not at all based on the biological reality in Faroese waters.

“What is more, I am profoundly disappointed that the other coastal states have not been willing to negotiate on a new sharing arrangement regarding Atlanto-Scandian herring, which they are legally obliged to do, according to international law, but rather have chosen to exclude the Faroe Islands from an arrangement for 2013.”