Mackerel fish

The Faroe Islands fishing dispute has taken another twist.

UK fish processors are calling on the British Frozen Food Federation to ban Faroese companies from its membership because of the islands’ alleged over-fishing.

The Scottish Pelagic Processors Association (SPPA), which represents mackerel and herring processors, wrote to the BFFF after the trade body recently allowed Faroe Seafood, part of Bakkafrost – the largest farmed salmon producer on the Faroe Islands – to re-join.

“I am alarmed the BFFF has accepted a membership application from a Faroe group when there is an ongoing high-profile dispute with the Faroe Isles,” said the SPPA’s chairman, Ian McFadden.

Farmed salmon produced in the Faroe Islands was fed on fish meal produced from mackerel and herring which meant that, through the BFFF’s new member, Faroese mackerel and herring would enter the UK food chain – something that ought to be avoided, he added.

“I am alarmed the BFFF has accepted a membership application from a Faroe group when there is an ongoing high-profile dispute with the Faroe Isles”

Ian McFadden, SPPA

Faroe Seafood’s feed supplier, Havsbrún, said on Friday it had not used any North Atlantic mackerel in its fish feed since the dispute began and had not used any herring to produce fish feed in 2013.

“Havsbrún produces its own fish meal and fish oil which is subsequently used to produce fish feed. Therefore, Havsbrún has the best traceability in the industry and is able to prove which exact ingredients are used to produce its fish feed,” Odd Eliasen, MD of P/F Havsbrún, said in a statement.

Havsbrún was committed to sourcing sustainably caught fish for its fish feed production. All the fish feed used to feed salmon in the Faroe Islands was derived from International Council for the Exploration of the Seas approved fisheries, he added.

BFFF said Faroe Seafood had to go through its standard joining procedures for new and previous members, including a ballot of its producers, importers and brokers committee, which it passed without any objections. “There will inevitably be occasions where different parts of the industry hold contradictory positions and our joining procedures are designed to be fair and representative of the entire industry,” said the BFFF’s director, Brian Young.

Young added that he had personally responded to the SPPA’s letter.

Tensions high

Tensions are currently running high between the EU and Norway on one side, and the Faroe Islands on the other, as a result of the Islands unilaterally and significantly increasing their mackerel catch in recent years.

In March, the Faroes set themselves a hugely increased quota of Atlanto-Scandian herring for 2013, further angering the EU and Norway. As a result, the EU is considering initiating sanctions against the Faroes in relation to Atlanto-Scandian herring.

EU fisheries minister Maria Damanaki met with the new Icelandic government in Reykjavik last week to discuss the fisheries dispute but no progress was made in reaching a compromise over fishing quotas.  

Faroe Seafood had been a member of the BFFF as far back as 1998, the BFFF said.

Faroe Seafood said it did not wish to comment. Bakkafrost did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This article was updated at 10.46 on 14 June 2013 with comment from Havsbrún.

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