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Playing politics with mackerel

A FAROESE fishermen’s leader has said that recent reports that Faroese fishing vessels are likely to cross the sea border into Scottish waters to catch mackerel were “misinformed”.

The Scottish government has said that they were “focussing their priorities” on patrolling the sea border to “make sure they (Faroese fishing boats) don’t come over that line into Scottish waters”.

Two fisheries protection vessel as well as spotter planes have been involved in the operation.

Catch quotas for mackerel are disputed in the vast north east Atlantic after the Faroe Islands and Iceland set their own catch allocation unilaterally without an international agreement.

But Jógvan Jespersen of the Faroese Pelagic Organisation said there was no need for the Scottish government to worry because the fleet had already caught almost all its quote of 150,000 tonnes this year.

“There is hardly any quota left. The fishery for the season is almost finished. There are just a few hundred tonnes left; that’s two or three days and that’s it.”

He added that the reporting of the so-called ‘mackerel dispute’ was misinformed and said that his organisation’s vessels had never been near the sea border with Scotland.

“The area near the sea border is of very little interest to us. Our boats are fishing further north, mainly in the area of 63 degrees north.

“I can’t see the reason for patrolling that area because our ships have not been near the southern sea border,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Marine Scotland confirmed on Thursday that there had been “no illegal incursion” into Scottish waters.