WITH JUST six weeks to go until the in/out European referendum, fisherman in Shetland are calling for Faroese vessels to be suspended from EU waters.
This follows an incident in the Danish port of Skagen last week where the Faroese trawler Jupiter allegedly landed 600 tonnes of mackerel mixed into a catch of blue whiting.
Reports say that the skipper declared the amount of mackerel to be less than five per cent when control samples indicated that the vessel had more than 20 per cent mackerel on board.
Shetland Fishermen’s Association chief officer Simon Collins said the incident cast renewed doubt on any mackerel catch data collected by the Faroese.
“The UK and Scottish governments and the European Commission need urgently to suspend Faroese access to review the current arrangements,” he said.
“There remains considerable anger in Shetland and elsewhere in Scotland over the amount of mackerel Faroe is permitted to catch.
“But it seems that even this is not enough and now their vessels are allegedly disguising landings of fish caught to the west of Shetland.
“Talk about giving an inch and taking a mile, they were given a mile and now they are taking 20. This has to stop. We want a fair and well-managed fishery.”
The local industry has been keeping a close eye on Faroese trawlers ever since the neighbouring island group gained renewed access to EU waters following a controversial deal on mackerel quota two and half years ago.
18 months ago the Faroese super trawler Christian I Grotinum was detained by Marine Scotland after allegedly breaching quota regulations.
The case against the vessel’s skipper Pall Rasmussen is still pending at Lerwick Sheriff Court.
Last year, the Jupiter was allegedly seen fishing within the 12 miles zone around Fair Isle, an incident that is still investigated by Marine Scotland.
Under an agreement with the EU, Faroe is allowed to catch 29 percent of its 2016 mackerel quota of 113,000 tonnes in EU waters.
Most of this fish is caught off Shetland, however, vessels are not allowed to enter the 12-mile zone around the islands.
On Monday, the Jupiter was fishing alongside other Faroese vessel as well as Russian trawlers half way between Shetland of Faroe.
While outside the EU, the Faroese minister of foreign affairs and trade, Poul Michelsen, has only last week reiterated his wish for Faroe to engage with the EU in a “more cohesive way”.
Faroese seafood is making up at least three percent of EU imports, according to the minister.
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