THE FAROE government has condemned Wednesday’s vote for the European Union to block imports of herring and mackerel over its unilateral quota for Atlanto-Scandian herring.
Prime minister Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen said Faroe viewed the move as “an unacceptable abuse of power” that contravened international obligations and undermined efforts to reach a joint management agreement.
Iceland, which has also massively increased its quota for herring and mackerel without international agreement, has come out in support of its island neighbours.
Both states says quotas should be based on the current fish distribution, after scientists demonstrated the pelagic species are spending more time in northern waters due to climate change.
However the sanctions were welcomed by EU fishing leaders, especially in Scotland where they have been waiting three years for measures to be taken to tackle what they regard as overfishing.
Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association chief executive Ian Gatt said: “We welcome this decision by EU member states and we hope it sends a clear signal to the Faroese that their actions are simply not acceptable in the 21st century and will not be tolerated by those nations committed to sustainable harvesting.
“We note that fishmeal, fish oil and salmon products are not included at this stage, but they could be imposed later if there is no movement from the Faroese in resolving this issue.”
Shetland MSP Tavish Scott added his voice to the cause, saying: “The decision of the Faroese and Icelandic governments to increase their quota so substantially without regard for others was wholly unacceptable.
“The fact that we have had to resort to sanctions is unfortunate but the simple fact is that their actions meant that there was no other option.
“Herring and mackerel stocks are hugely important to Scotland and support hundreds of jobs in Shetland and other parts of the country.
“The Faroes now need to come back to the negotiating table and show that they are willing to listen to reason.”
Iceland has persuaded all the coastal states to reopen talks in September, though there is no sign that any side is willing to shift its position.
The EU and Norway want quotas to be set on a historical basis, while Iceland and Faroe want quotas to reflect current migratory patterns.
Faroe’s prime minister warned that it was already developing new markets elsewhere around the world.
Johannessen said: “The EU’s plans will seriously compromise the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation which is crucial to ensuring that real progress can be made through balanced and constructive consultations.”
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