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News / Frustration as Russian fishing vessels continue to work off Shetland

Isles MP Alistair Carmichael seeks urgent meeting with Faroese fishing minister

ISLES MP Alistair Carmichael has requested a meeting with Faroese fishing minister Árni Skaale to raise concerns about the open access being given to Russian trawlers in the UK-Faroese shared sea area to the west of Shetland and Orkney.

The Lib Dem MP said he would like to advocate a change in Faroese policy on the issue, describing it as “frustrating” that Russian trawlers were continuing to operate “just off our shores”.

He said countries across the world have taken various forms of sanctions in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and highlighted campaigns by local people in Shetland and in Orkney to prevent Russian vessels from making use of port facilities.

‘Business as usual’ as Russian tanker berths at Sullom Voe

The issue was raised earlier this week by the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association. Its chief executive Ian Gatt said that as far Faroe was concerned it is business as usual with Russia.

“The Russian fleet is being fully serviced by the Faroe Islands, including re-fuelling and the ability to tranship catches to reefers,” he said.

“The proceeds of this fishery will further fuel the war effort by the Kremlin.  This is a deplorable action by Faroe Islands to continue this relationship with Russia while we watch the atrocities in Ukraine.”

Emphasising the longstanding ties of friendship between Faroe and the Northern Isles, Carmichael said there was a need to “renew our shared solidarity and common purpose – in working together to deny economic support to Vladimir Putin’s regime”.

“People across the Northern Isles came together at the start of Putin’s invasion to make it clear that we did not want any part in sustaining his murderous regime economically,” the MP wrote in his letter.

“Through protests and political pressure we secured a swift commitment from the government to bar Russian owned and operated vessels from making use of our ports.

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“It is frustrating, therefore, that Russian fishing vessels continue to operate just off our shores as a result of licences given by the Faroese government.

“The Faroese are entirely within their right to issue licences and we of course recognise that revoking those permits would not be a cost-free exercise for them.

“Even so I hope that our northern neighbours will think again about this open access and consider what steps we can all take to cut off further funds from Putin’s war machine.”

The Faroese Government has been contacted for comment.

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