Alistair Carmichael MP met online with the Faroese Minister of Fisheries to discuss open access of Russian trawlers to the ‘special area’
Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael met online with Árni Skaale, Minister of Fisheries Affairs from the Faroe Islands to discuss ongoing concerns about the open access of Russian trawlers to shared UK-Faroe fishing grounds known as the ‘special area’.
The Faroe Islands has been condemned by the Scottish and EU fishing industries for allowing Russian fishing vessels access to the special area to fish blue whiting since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February this year. Not alone does the Russian fleet have access to the special area, the Faroese have been accused of refuelling the trawlers and allowing the transfer their catches to reefer ships which allows them to transport the fish back home to Russia.
The Faroe Islands maintain the under the Protocol of the Forty Fifth Session in the joint Faroese-Russian Fisheries Commission held in November 2021, the Faroe Islands has granted permission for Russian vessels to fish a quota of 75,000 tonnes of blue whiting along with a balance of 5,565 tonnes carried over from 2021. Russian vessels are granted access to the Faroese Fishing Zone in 2022 to fish up to 25% of the quota of blue whiting, (13,959 tonnes), allocated to Russia in the NEAFC Regulatory Area for 2022. In exchange for this, the Russian authorities will allow Faroese fishing vessels to catch, cod, haddock, flatfish and bycatches of other species in the Russian Exclusive Economic Zone.
Under a series of international agreements, the UK and the Faroe Islands both have fisheries jurisdiction over a small area – the Special Area – between the two countries, but the agreements allow for third party countries to fish quota allocated to them by the signatory parties.
At that time in April, the Liberal Democrat MP wrote to the Faroese Minister of Fisheries Árni Skaale to raise islander concerns about the open access being given to Russian trawlers in the UK-Faroese special area.
After the virtual meeting which took place on Wednesday 20 July, Carmichael said:
“I was glad to meet with Minister Skaale and discuss concerns about the ongoing access for Russian vessels to vital shared fishing grounds. This has been a point of great consternation for fishermen and others in recent months and so it was helpful to be able to put these issues directly to the minister and his team.
“I have said before that challenging Putin’s aggression is not a cost-free exercise – particularly for economic sectors which have relied on Russian trade. Even so I welcome the partial steps the Faroes have taken towards sanctioning Russia and hope that more will come in the future. Putin’s war in Ukraine is not ending any time soon – and in a contest between authoritarian aggression and liberal democracy, we all have to take a side sooner or later.”