Faroe Islands call on the EU to drop threats

18 Jun 2013
The Faroe Islands are calling on the EU to drop threats of sanctions regarding herring. Credit: Claus Ableiter/ CC BY-SA 3.0

The Faroe Islands are calling on the EU to drop threats of sanctions regarding herring. Credit: Claus Ableiter/ CC BY-SA 3.0

Jacob Vestergaard, Faroese Minister of Fisheries, has written to EU Commissioner Maria Damanaki, urging her to drop the threat of sanctions against the Faroes regarding the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock.

In May the European Commission announced that it had notified the Faroe Islands of its intention to adopt measures in support of the sustainability of herring fisheries. It said the measures may include restrictions in the imports of herring and associated species fished by Faroese interests and restrictions on the access of Faroese vessels in EU harbours. The EC claims that the Faroe Islands alone are endangering the herring by not having agreed this year to a rollover of the allocation of the stock.

The Faroes have been calling for a review of the allocation of the stock it shares with Norway, Iceland, Russia and the EU, as a result of the “clear increase in herring distribution and abundance in Faroese waters”. However, the Minister says that the other coastal states have not been willing to address the issue and have continued to apply the allocation from previous years. Without a revised allocation for 2013, the Minister says that the Faroe Islands had no option but to set a catch limit for Faroese herring fisheries which reflects the reality of herring occurrence in the Faroese zone. 

Minister Vestergaard’s letter highlights the fact that the EU’s plan to implement potentially devastating economic measures is based entirely on inaccurate allegations, including the erroneous claim that the Faroe Islands have withdrawn from international cooperation on the management of the herring stock.

Expanding on his letter, Mr Vestergaard said: “The EU knows full well that the Faroe Islands have not withdrawn from cooperation on the herring or any other shared stock in our region. The Faroe Islands remain fully committed to the long term management of the herring stock and the scientific advice on the recommended total catch level for 2013.

“I do firmly believe that we have yet to exhaust our usual approach to resolving disagreements on allocation of shared fish stocks in our region, and that is through multilateral consultations. That is why I have called on the EU to join us in continuing to pursue dialogue and negotiation. We must do so together with the other coastal states to the herring, Norway, Iceland and the Russian Federation”, said the Minister.

The letter also made it clear that if the EU insists on sanctions against the Faroe Islands, the Faroe Islands reserve the right to take the necessary steps to instigate appropriate compulsory conciliation proceedings under international law.

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