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EU/Faroe Mackerel Negotiations Taken Off the Table

10 December 2015

SCOTLAND, UK - This year’s EU/Faroe fishing negotiations has placed “unacceptable restrictions” on all concerned and the future level of Faroese access to EU waters to fish for mackerel must be open to review, said Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment Richard Lochhead.

Negotiators have claimed that in 2014 the level of access to mackerel for the Faroes was fixed at 30 per cent for the full five-year duration of the agreement. This was not made clear to EU delegations at the time and was not recorded anywhere.

As a result, mackerel access between the EU and Faroe has been taken off the negotiating table until 2019.

Mr Lochhead said: “These unacceptable restrictions mean we are in a position where the level of access to mackerel between the EU and Faroe is effectively off the table for another three years. We cannot accept a situation that does not allow us to review and adjust aspects of the package as a result of unwritten closed door deals that we were not aware of.

“This practice is not acceptable and is a breach of faith by the EU Commission – going forward we must have guarantees that everything is open for discussion, unless transparently agreed otherwise by all parties, so we can evaluate the entire package. I will be raising this issue with the Commission at December Council next week and asking the UK Government to support our request that all aspects of the EU/Faroe package can be properly reviewed at next year’s negotiations.”

Also commenting on the outcome, Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: “We are bitterly disappointed at the outcome of these talks, which we regard as a missed opportunity to rebalance the agreement.

“The agreement continues to favour the Faroese greatly and we don’t understand why the EC failed to press for a fairer access arrangement. The Faroese are already being rewarded with a larger quota supposedly based on mackerel abundance in their own waters, so why do they need such a generous access share to fish for mackerel in Scottish waters?

“It delivers a negative impact on our valuable processing sector and undermines the Scottish Government’s five-point plan to deal with the current marketing difficulties for mackerel. It also means Marine Scotland Compliance will have a huge burden on its shoulders next year monitoring Faroese fishing activities in Scottish waters.

“The Faroese overshot their mackerel catch in our waters by 1,400 tonnes in 2014, and the one positive element to come out of these talks was that this figure will be deducted from their overall quota in 2016.”

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