Scotland business

Faroe herring sanctions by the 'end of month'

Fish being loaded on to trawler
Image caption Scottish fishermen have been calling for action to be taken against the Faroe Islands and Iceland

European sanctions over herring fishing will be brought in against the Faroe Islands by the end of the month.

The European Commission said it would now bring forward similar measures against Iceland over mackerel.

Scottish fishermen have criticised both countries for several years over their large take of the valuable species outside international agreements.

Separately, changes to European funding for fishing and fish farming have been welcomed by the Scottish government.

The deal will underpin the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, in particular dealing with the challenges of discards, maximum sustainable yield and providing investment in fragile coastal communities.

It will now be negotiated between the EU Presidency, the EU Commission and the EU Parliament.

The Scottish government will now seek to negotiate an increase in Scotland's share of the total UK-level pot from the current 40% to a figure that reflects the fact that the greater share of both industries in the UK - 61% of sea fisheries and 86% of aquaculture sales by volume - are based in Scotland.

Scotland's Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "Tonight was an important first step towards securing a fair level of funding for Scotland's fishing and aquaculture sectors through the new European Maritime Fisheries Fund.

"We will now turn our focus to negotiating with the UK government to try and secure an increased settlement in terms of allocation from the UK pot."

"With well over half of the UK's sea fisheries and almost 90% of aquaculture sales by volume coming from Scotland, a settlement of 40% is unacceptable and should not happen again.

"Scotland's hard working fishermen and fish farmers deserve a better deal than that."

Sanctions against the Faroe Islands on Atlanto-Scandian Herring (Ash) will be implemented at the end of this month unless they cease fishing for Ash and bring forward a suitable plan for sustainable fishing of the stock.

Due to ongoing pressure from Scotland and some key member states, the Commission also confirmed it would now bring forward similar measures against Iceland on mackerel.

'Irresponsible behaviour'

Mr Wheelhouse said: "Today's progress on trade measures against both Faroe Islands and Iceland will be welcome news for Scotland's fishermen.

"For far too long the unsustainable fishing of both these nations has gone unchecked and our fishermen, who have been fishing sustainably, have been paying the price.

"Mackerel is Scotland's most valuable fish stock and it is important for the health of our fishing industry as well as the health of the fish stocks that the reckless plundering of the stock comes to an end."

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association, said: "This is welcome news and we are pleased the EC has given its commitment to deliver firm action.

"The irresponsible behaviour of both Faroes and Iceland in their over-fishing of key stocks cannot be allowed to continue.

"Their actions are threatening the sustainability of important herring and mackerel fisheries, as well as the livelihoods of fishing communities in northern Europe."

He added: "Hopefully, this new action announced by the EC will provide the spur for both Iceland and the Faroes to return to the negotiating table and so that we can reach a fair and equitable deal."

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