EU announces measures to secure sustainable herring fishing
Stocks of herring in the Atlanto-Scandian region had previously been managed by consultation between the nations that fished there – Norway, the Russian Federation, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and the European Union. But this year the Faroe Islands left this consultation and has set its own quota levels for 2013 – 145% higher than those agreed in 2012. The remaining nations all agreed on a 26% reduction to preserve stock in the region.
Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association Chief Executive, Ian Gatt told the BBC in January that “the Faroese seem intent on pursuing their own national interests with no concern for the health of the stock or acknowledgment of the need for the fishery to be controlled by an international management plan.”
The European Commission said that by the Faroese increasing their quotas while the rest of Europe cuts back, “the sustainability of the stock is highly compromised and its recovery possibilities [are] largely diminished.” Measures to counter this could include sanctions which prevent the import of herring from Faroese fisheries and prevent vessels from the EU going to Faroese to fish for herring or coming from Faroese waters to land in the EU with herring.
Scotland’s Fishing minister Richard Lochhead, in Brussels for the EU Fishing Council discussions, said: “The sanctions discussed today will stop the sale of unsustainably caught herring in EU markets as well as stopping EU boats fishing for herring unsustainably under the Faroese flag. This should help reduce the damage inflicted to date on our fish stocks.
“Our fishermen fully deserve the protection these sanctions will give them. But it is disappointing that no firm action has yet been agreed in relation to Iceland and Faroe consistent over fishing mackerel, and I hope that will come shortly.”
Iceland and the Faroe Islands have in the past shown a disregard to fish stocks, according to Scottish fishers. A Faroese vessel was blockaded at Peterhead two years ago by local trawlermen to prevent it from bringing its catch ashore.
With the livelihoods of EU fishermen in mind, the European Commission said that it sought to “avoid a collapse of the stock which would mean that many fishermen and their families would lose their income.”