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Faroe Islands Herring Fishing Ignoring Science, says EC

21 May 2013

EU - The European Commission has informed the Faroe Islands authorities of the possibility of introducing restricting measures against them on herring quotas issue.

This notification is a preliminary step which aims at giving the Faroe Islands an opportunity to be heard in advance. 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.

The stock of Atlanto-Scandian herring is fished by Norway, the Russian Federation, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and the European Union with management measures commonly set up through consultation among these countries.

The Faroe Islands withdrew from the consultations on the management of the stock for 2013 and announced that they would set up an autonomous quota at a level 145 per cent higher than their 2012 quota. This was set against a context in which all other parties to the fishery had agreed to reduce their quotas by 26 per cent for conservation reasons.

By this action, the sustainability of the stock is highly compromised and its recovery possibilities largely diminished. 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. The action is based on Regulation (EU) No 1026/2012, which foresees the adoption of measures against countries that fail to cooperate with the EU in the management of stocks of common interest and adopt management measures that put fish stocks at risk.

EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: "I am concerned about the persistent unsustainable behaviour of the Faroe Islands. They are acting in full disrespect of the necessary science-based management measures. While the EU fishermen and all other coastal states' fishermen are taking a serious hit through a 26 per cent reduction of their quotas of last year, the Faroes are increasing unilaterally their quota by 145 per cent."

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