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EU sanctions lifted, but…

THE DISPUTE over fishing rights in the north east Atlantic seems to be far from over, despite an announcement that EU sanctions against Faroe are to be lifted soon.

As part of the deal, the Faroese government said on Thursday that it would cut the islands’ 2014 quota for Atlanto-Scandinavian herring by 57 per cent to 40,000 tonnes.

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But the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA) immediately responded by saying the Faroese were only entitled to 21,500 tonnes, their share of the 2014 total allowable catch of 418,487 tonnes to be shared between all coastal states.

The SPFA has warned that a political settlement to lift the sanctions should not reward the Faroese for their overfishing.

Last year Faroe increased its share unilaterally from 32,000 to 105,000 tonnes, sparking a bitter row that led to Faroese vessels being banned from EU ports.

SPFA chief executive Ian Gatt said: “It is clear that these sanctions are having an effect as the Faroese are contesting the move in the international courts.

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“This year the scientific advice states that 419,000 tonnes can be caught amongst all the coastal states, which would give the Faroes a share of 21,500 tonnes.

“If the Faroese set themselves a quota higher than this, then clearly the EC will have made a huge mistake in removing its sanctions lever.

“If this does happen, then we will be strongly pressing the Scottish and UK governments not to support this proposal.”

On the other side of the argument, the Faroese prime minister Kaj Leo Holm welcomed the development.

He said: “The Faroe Islands and the EU are partners in many important areas, and I am confident that we can now use this opportunity to start afresh with a new focus on improving our trade relations and enhancing cooperation in many other areas as well.”

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