SCOTTISH fisheries protection vessels are being sent into the Atlantic Ocean to make sure Faroese fishermen do not try to catch mackerel in UK waters.
As the battle over the mackerel stock intensifies, Scottish fisheries minister Richard Lochhead told fishermen that monitoring the line between Faroese and Scottish waters was a top priority.
Faroe has courted international trade sanctions by massively increasing its quota for mackerel over the past two years from around 30,000 tonnes to 150,000 tonnes without agreement from the European Union or Norway.
Speaking during a meeting with the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, Mr Lochhead said there was an urgent need for the EU to apply trade sanctions “without delay” now that the mackerel fishing season was commencing.
“I urge the Commission to act swiftly on this. This needs to happen alongside continuation of talks to put in place a new international agreement for the mackerel stock,” the minister said.
“In the meantime, monitoring the line between Scottish and Faroese waters is vital to safeguard our mackerel stocks, and this has been a key focus of my talks today with the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association.
“In the absence of an access agreement, the Faroese pelagic fleet cannot fish in EU waters and it is important that we do not allow them to plunder our waters as part of their outrageous mackerel grab.”
Mackerel is the most valuable species for the Scottish fishing fleet, which catches about 140,000 tonnes that is worth around £135 million. The Shetland pelagic fleet has a quota to catch around 40,000 tonnes this year.