UK and Faroe negotiators were continuing to work on a fisheries deal for 2024 last week, and agreement was understood to be ‘imminent’.

About 12 of the larger boats in the Scottish whitefish fleet work at Faroe at various times of the year, which reduces pressure on UK quotas and provides extra opportunities.

Mike Park, chief executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association (SWFPA), said that officials were working out the last details of the agreed record.

“Our position is that we’re hopeful that a deal is close,” he told Fishing News.

He said that while a Faroe deal is a useful outlet for some of the SWFPA’s bigger vessels which work there at various times of the year, it does not work for everyone because of the quota exchanges involved in reaching agreement.

“It’s all about currency and ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’. Put it this way, the benefits of the Faroe deal don’t necessarily go to the people who pay for it,” he said.

“That’s pretty much a legacy of being a member of the EU, because that’s how they approached it. Going forward, we need to look at how we best strike these deals so that we’re not creating winners and losers.”

He said the government looks at the extent to which stocks are, or are not, fully utilised when deciding which quotas it can use as currency in quota exchanges.

But he pointed out that if quota uptakes and availability are analysed in more depth, it is often the case that even when there is quota of a particular stock or stocks available overall, some POs or individual vessels have run out of their allocations.

“We need to take a fresh look at how we conduct swaps in international negotiations,” said Mike Park.

A Defra spokesperson said: “Negotiations with the Faroe Islands are continuing and we are working to reach an agreement.”

Reaching a deal is made more challenging this year because there is less NAFO cod available for Faroe to use as negotiating currency – only around 400t compared with around 1,100t in 2023. In the 2023 agreement, Faroe transferred 1,200t of cod and haddock to the UK.

Agreement for 2023 was not reached until April, but much of that delay was due to internal government issues in Faroe and an election.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.50 here

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