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Herring deadlock

FAROE and Europe remain deadlocked after two days of talks about the right to catch Atlanto-Scandian herring in the north east Atlantic.

Initial talks about next year’s catch allocations only agreed to set up a scientific working group.

While the move was greeted enthusiastically by the Faroese delegation, Scottish fishing leaders were unimpressed, calling it “hardly a significant step forward”.

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Monday and Tuesday’s meeting came just days after the European Union imposed trade sanctions against Faroe in response to the country increasing its quota threefold outside any multilateral agreement.

Afterwards, Faroese fishing minister Jacob Vestergaard said: “This decision is an important first step to ensure a joint management arrangement of the Atlanto-Scandian herring.

“Joint management is a prerequisite for sustainable fisheries of the stock, although the negotiations were dealt a serious blow by the recent adoption of the EU’s coercive economic measures.”

But Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association Ian Gatt chief executive said the agreement would do “nothing to resolve the issue in the short-term”.

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He said the other four coastal states were disappointed that the Faroese put nothing forward that could help resolve the dispute.

“What was particularly astonishing was that despite the requests by the EU, Norway, Iceland and Russia for the Faroese to table an offer of a new and more realistic quota level, this was not forthcoming from the Faroese and they had absolutely nothing to offer.

“Even more worrying was the fact that they gave no assurances that they would not set a high unilateral TAC (total allowable catch) next year.
 
“In short, the actions of the Faroese to suddenly withdraw from an international fisheries agreement for herring and then set a unilateral quota that is more than three times their traditional share is an act of extreme irresponsibility,” he said.

Faroe argues that the species is spending more time in their waters as a result of climate change and therefore they should be entitled to a greater share of the stock.

Europe and Norway want quotas to be based on historical quota levels, regardless of today’s herring migration patterns.

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