Faroe Islands face trade sanctions over fishery quotas

Tiny North Atlantic nation repeatedly defies EU over herring and mackerel quotas

A A A

The Faroe Islands could become the first nation to suffer trade sanctions under new European fishery laws.

The tiny nation, a group of 18 islands in the North Atlantic between Scotland and Iceland, has repeatedly defied the European Union over herring and mackerel quotas and now faces economic retaliation. New laws were created by the EU last year to allow it to impose sanctions in the event of disputes over fish quotas and the Faroes have now been officially notified that trade penalties are being considered as part of the so-called “herring war”.

Ministers for the Faroes have been given a few weeks to respond but if they refuse to back down they face a range of sanctions that could include a ban on all fish products from the islands being imported or landed in the EU.

The UK led calls for economic retaliation this month at the Fisheries Council when European ministers agreed sanctions against the Faroes should be pursued by the European Commission.

Richard Benyon, the UK Fisheries Minister, welcomed the step: “I support the commission in taking the first step towards applying trade sanctions, following the request I made to discuss this last week. I hope the Faroe Islands adopt a more reasonable position and I remain prepared to support trade sanctions if they continue to behave irresponsibly.”

It is the first time the sanctions process has been invoked and, unless a compromise over quotas can be found, it is likely to hit the Faroe Islands especially hard.

Fishing is the main industry on the North Atlantic archipelago and accounts for more than 95 per cent of its exports – about 20 per cent of the gross national product.

In a statement, the European Commission said “the sustainability of the [herring] stock is highly compromised and its recovery possibilities largely diminished” because of the Faroes. It said: “The European Commission has notified the fisheries authorities of the Faroe Islands of its intention to adopt measures in support of the sustainability of herring fisheries shared with the Faroe Islands.

“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 except for safety reasons.

“This commission action aims to ensure sustainability to avoid a collapse of the stock which would mean that many fishermen and their families would lose their income.”

Mackerel quotas have been a source of conflict for several years with Iceland and the Faroes demanding a greater share, arguing that they were entitled to more because climate change had altered the migration patterns so that more of the fish reached their waters.

The Faroes intensified the dispute when it pulled out of an international agreement on the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock. A total allowable catch of 619,000 tonnes was set for the declining herring fishery for 2013 and the Faroes were offered 31,940 tonnes but awarded itself a 105,000-tonne quota, 145 per cent higher than its 2012 quota. Other nations accepted a 26 per cent cut to protect the stock. For 2013 the Faroes awarded itself a 159,000-tonne mackerel quota, up from 148,000 last year. 

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Electronic Service Engineer - Television & HI-FI

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Engineers for field & bench ser...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer - Award Winning Agency

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity for a t...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

£35000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global provider of call ce...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service and Business Support Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: By developing intimate relationships with inte...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada