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Fishing minister defends Faroe

FAROE’S fishing minister has said that all sides need to return to the negotiating table to resolve their differences over this year’s mackerel quota.

Jacob Vestergaard’s comments come after Norway and the European Union threatened trade sanctions against the small island group after it unilaterally tripled its mackerel quota to 85,000 tonnes.

Faroe had followed Iceland’s lead after they had also ncreased the mackerel catch to 130,000 tonnes, more than half of which has already been netted.

Faroe says that it was excluded from the EU/Norway talks that settled an agreement to catch 572,000 tonnes of the fish, which is the most valuable to the Scottish and the Shetland industry.

The islanders say that the agreement failed to acknowledge the westward movement of mackerel shoals into their exclusive economic zone.

However he stressed the need for a sustainable fishery negotiated by all parties acting in concert.

“This is not an issue the Faroe Islands can resolve alone. It requires sincere effort and cooperation on the part of all four coastal states to reach agreement on a new arrangement for the allocation of this shared resource that can provide us all with a workable basis for the long term sustainable management of our respective mackerel fisheries,” Mr Vestergaard said.

“Responsible management of mackerel in the north east Atlantic must be based on the realities of the fishery today, taking into account the ecological role and fluctuations in distribution of the mackerel stock in the region.

“Changes in the distribution and migration pattern of mackerel are evident, showing a more pronounced north western distribution of both juvenile and adult mackerel, and this needs to be reflected in a new sharing arrangement covering the entire fishery.”

He also pointed out that both the EU and Norway had set a quota that exceedd the scientific recommendations of the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES).