RADICAL changes to the way the Faroe Islands manage its fisheries are being watched with interest locally but are unlikely to have any real influence on how the UK/Scotland is going to manage the sector post-Brexit.
Following ten years of preparation, fishing quotas have been nationalised as of 18 December 2017. All fishing licences now belong to the Faroese nation and not to individuals.
Quotas can no longer be traded directly between private buyers but they can change hands through an open public auction, from which the government will generate some additional income.
Licenses will initially be valid for eight years, and are only to be granted to Faroese-owned companies which pay their taxes in Faroe and pay their crew in accordance with Faroese labour market rules.
The previous days-at-sea system will be replaced by a quota system, and all fish caught in Faroese waters will have to be landed in the Faroe Islands.
Shetland Fishermen’s Association’s (SFA) Simon Collins said the topical feature for him was not so much “the resource fee or auction”, but the move away from days-at-sea.
“When we leave the EU, we will also be able to adjust our fisheries management regime and ensure it evolves with changing conditions”, the SFA’s chief operating officer said.
“While what works in one place doesn’t necessarily work in another, we’ll at least be able to choose!”
Meanwhile local MSP Tavish Scott said he could not see how such a radical measure could be adopted in Scotland, as it would split the industry.
He said the real issue facing the industry was how “our product can continue to access the European continent” after March 2019.
“It is important to note from the Faroese government’s statement that they have been working on this for many years. The UK now has less than 12 months to come up with an alternative to the Common Fisheries Policy depending on hard or soft Brexit, deal or no deal,” he said.
“I fear no deal as I cannot conceive of how the UK government can negotiate a future trading agreement with the EU in the time now left.
“I worry that the impact on Shetland’s fishing industry’s ability to trade the catch into European markets will not be resolved come 29 March 2019 when the UK leaves.
“I assume the Faroese have thought through their access to European markets as their new policy will presumably also impact on the Dutch and other European countries who have fleet interests in Faroese waters.”
Meanwhile the Guardian newspaper is reporting that Brussels insists British should continue to be governed by the Common Fisheries Policy during the transition period until 2021, in stark contrast to the position of UK fishing leaders.
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