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Faroe blames Norway and the EU

THE WAR of words over Faroe’s decision to grant themselves a big increase in the country’s mackerel quota continued last night (Monday) with Faroese fishermen accusing Norway and the EU of irresponsible behaviour.

The Faroese Pelagic Organisation (FPO) said the small Atlantic country had been sidelined in an agreement between Norway and the EU, reached in January this year.

They also claimed that the mackerel stock had increasingly shifted into their waters justifying a larger share of the total allowable catch (TAC).

Earlier this year, Iceland and Faroe awarded themselves large increases in valuable mackerel quota, creating an outrage among fishing communities in Scotland and Norway.

Two weeks ago, the Faroese pelagic trawler Jupiter was prevented from landing 1,150 tonnes of mackerel by a group of angry fishermen, in Peterhead.

On Monday, the FPO said the quota increase from 35,000 tonnes to 85,000 tonnes represented just 15 per cent of the overall catchable stock of 570,000 tonnes.

Europe and Norway had awarded themselves 110 per cent of that, they said.

In a strongly worded statement, FPO managing director Jógvan Jespersen said: “The move by the EU and Norway to first take more than everything for themselves and then blame others for irresponsibility is hardly a testimony of their commitment to responsible management.

“We are very disappointed over the decision by the pelagic industry in the EU and Norway to block Faroese vessels from landing mackerel and thereby to terminate their decade-long cooperation with our fleet.

“Indeed the blame pointed at the Faroese is based on the perceived possibility that the future health of the mackerel stock could be in jeopardy given the absence of a comprehensive agreement among the Coastal States.

“The EU and Norway certainly must take their share of the responsibility for any failure to restore the multilateral agreement. The Faroese made every effort to reach a negotiated solution and were willing to compromise if necessary.”

Mr Jespersen added that the behaviour of mackerel was changing as last year it had left Norwegian waters earlier than expected leaving the Norwegian fleet in limbo as they were not allowed to enter European waters to catch their remaining quota of 70,000 tonnes.

He also said that the Faroese had presented new data showing that the mackerel shoals were increasingly found in Faroese waters, but this had not been accepted by the EU and Norway.

“The Faroe Islands demanded a change to the sharing of the quota to reflect the changed geographical distribution of the mackerel stock.

“What’s obvious to everyone here is that the mackerel is booming and the waters are brimming with it,” he added.