Faroese Minister of Fisheries Árni Skaale has signed off a decision on the Faroese fleet’s quotas for blue whiting and Atlanto-Scandian herring on similar lines to previous years – and other coastal states will undoubtedly follow with their own quotas.
The Faroese blue whiting quota is set at 267,431 tonnes – equivalent to 38.6% of the 692,826 tonne TAC decided by coastal states at a meeting in London last year.
The Faroe Islands have also decided on a 131,989 tonne herring quota, equivalent of 22.05% of the agreed 598,588 tonne TAC.
According to Árni Skaale, now that it has been confirmed that there is no agreement between coastal states on the division of the 2022 TAC, the focus needs to be on reaching an agreement for 2023.
This is exactly the situation that the North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group (NAPA) has been seeking to apply pressure to resolve, warning that for the last thirteen years, annual disputes over quota allocations between Northeast Atlantic Coastal States fishing for pelagic, shared-stock fisheries have resulted in a disregard for the scientific advice and overfishing.
‘Since then, the combined TACs (total allowable catches) for Northeast Atlantic mackerel, Atlanto-Scandian herring, and Northeast Atlantic blue whiting have exceeded the scientific recommendations by 30-40% every year,’ NAPA states.
‘As a consequence of this overfishing, and the absence of a long-term management strategy, fisheries in each stock have been stripped of their Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certifications, no longer boasting the recognisable and trusted blue tick that consumers have become familiar with.’
The withdrawal of MSC certification has removed around 500,000 tonnes of MSC-certified herring and 1 million tonnes of MSC-certified mackerel and blue whiting respectively, have been lost to the supply chain and ultimately to consumers.
‘What makes the unsustainable situation unfolding in Northeast Atlantic pelagic fisheries so frustrating is that the issues around their sustainability are purely political,’ said NAPA Project Lead Dr Tom Pickerell.
‘Coastal States merely need to collectively agree on overall catch shares that follow the scientific advice. NAPA has been pushing hard to advocate for changes to the management of these stocks. Our new Position Paper sets out clear recommendations of how to break the Coastal State deadlock over quota shares. If they are serious about wanting to do this; they should read with interest.’