Figures show Faroese catches down –

Figures show Faroese catches down Published:  12 December, 2007

Cod catches were down by 15%

THE all important Faroese fishing fleet has been catching significantly less fish this year, partly due to restrictions and partly due to natural factors.

The latest figures show that in the first nine months of this year seafish catches by Faroese boats fell by ten per cent in tonnage, but thanks to higher prices, by only six per cent in value.

Cod catches at a total of 8,700 tonnes were down by 15 per cent or around 1,800 tonnes, but surprisingly haddock – a species regarded as being less under threat – fell by a larger 23 per cent. Catches of groundfish fell by 18 per cent and Greenland halibut was the only species which showed an increase – albeit a small one of 80 tonnes.

The lower catch rates, especially for the popular species like cod and haddock, coupled with even tougher curbs from Iceland, is the main reason why most white fish prices have been very high on UK fish auctions this autumn.

A few months ago, the Faroe Islands government announced new fishing restrictions which came into force on September 1. The Faroese are unique among major fishing countries in that they adopt a quite different system. These depend far less on the sort of crude quota cuts as administered by the EU as a way of preserving stocks and instead using a mixed approach mixed approach, which includes reductions in days at sea and closing off key fishing areas at certain times to allow stocks to recover.

This year there was widespread political support for Fisheries Minister Bjorn Kalsø’s plans to extend the existing system of seasonal and area closures, in order to further enhance protection of spawning and juvenile cod. These include the closure of most of the Faroe Bank to fisheries all year to protect its unique cod stock, as well as a further reduction in fishing days of at least 15 per cent in remaining parts of the Faroe Bank.

Seasonal and areas closures, as well as minimum mesh size requirements to prevent catches of undersize fish, and unwanted by-catch in other fisheries, are an integral part of the Faroese management system, which the country says has proved effective in past years.

He said: “Our goal is to ensure long-term sustainability in all sectors of our fishing industry. We need to apply our system in a way that keeps all our fish stocks healthy and productive, without compromising the flexibility of the effort system as a whole.”

The Faroe Islands are a Danish autonomous archipelago of 48,000 people, and fish exports are worth around 470-million euros a year – or some £335-million in sterling. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.