Question to the Commissioner - EU-Faroese Bi-Lateral Fisheries Agreement
I wish to draw to your attention the current situation regarding the EU-Faroe bi-lateral fisheries agreement which is up for its re-negotiation on the 8th of December.
You will be aware that the bi-lateral agreement between the EU and the Faroe Islands enables vessels from the Faroe Islands to catch a proportion of their own mackerel and blue whiting quota in EU waters while in return, EU vessels are enabled to catch some of their quota in Faroese waters. But an economic report on the access arrangement produced by Seafish has found evidence to indicate that this part of the agreement unfair, being heavily skewed in favour of the Faroese. The report reveals that the UK received no benefit as its vessels did not catch any mackerel or blue whiting in Faroese waters in 2014. Conversely, the Faroese caught 93% of their mackerel and blue whiting permitted from EU waters with an estimated catch value of £42.1m.
UK and Faroese processors are now in direct competition due to the fact that the mackerel caught in British waters is of much higher quality than that in Faroese waters. As Ian McFadden of the Scottish Pelagic Processors Association has said, "In essence we have turned the value of Faroese mackerel value from bronze to gold".
It is quite clear that the current access agreement is detrimental to Scottish interests and to the wider EU pelagic fleet and processing sector.
I therefore ask what you as Fisheries Commissioner, are doing to press the case for the Scottish and ultimately the European Union's Pelagic Fishing Industry as we near the re-negotiation of the EU-Faroese bi-lateral fisheries agreement in early December.
The market is already challenging given the Russian /EU trade dispute, the devaluation of the Ukrainian currency and significant currency import problems with Nigeria since the oil economy crash. These are all important markets that are now effectively closed to UK Pelagic Fishermen.
Dr Ian Duncan MEP