Battle for the seas continues as EU intervention 'is likely'

By Freddie Dawson

- Last updated on GMT

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Battle for the seas continues as EU intervention 'is likely'
There is still no resolution in sight for an international dispute that threatens the Scottish fishing sector and over 2,500 jobs, according to a trade body.

The latest round of talks about the dispute between Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway and the EU representing Scotland's interests over agreed national quotas for the catching of mackerel collapsed in March and it looks unlikely that the sides will come to an agreement, said Ian Gatt chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association (SPFA).

The Faroe Islands and Iceland believe that global warming has driven mackerel fishing grounds further northwest into their territorial waters and, as a result, they deserve a higher percentage of the annual catch, said the Faroese government in a statement.

But the SPFA contests there is no scientific evidence behind this claim, even though the Faroese refer to research by the Faroe Marine Research Institute and marine research institutes in Norway and Iceland, that supports it.

Scotland and Norway argue that sustainable management of fisheries has helped to increase the number of mackerel resulting in an expansion in mackerel territory a situation that would be reversed by allowing higher annual quotas, said Gatt.

EU intervention against Iceland and the Faroe Islands in the form of trade sanctions, closed ports and adding vessels to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing blacklists is likely, warned Gatt. He said Iceland's EU application would not go through until a solution was reached.

The UK has committed to using the Royal Navy to police lines of demarcation and could seek stricter unspecified measures to protect fisheries, he added an approach the Faroe Islands said was "extremely disappointing" and counterproductive to finding a fair solution to mackerel management.

Iceland and the Faroe Islands have unilaterally raised quotas to unsustainable levels, claimed the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), as previously reported by foodmanufacture.co.uk. This action could jeopardise mackerel's MSC sustainability certification.

Scottish directorate Marine Scotland has successfully challenged a Faroese application for MSC accreditation for its fisheries, said a spokesman.

Related topics: World News, Seafood

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