EU and FAROE ISLANDS - The European Commission has decided to adopt its sanction measures which will be applied to the Faroe Islands over its overfishing of herring.
The announcement came only a few days after the Faroe Islands entered a tribunal with the EU over its plans on the grounds that the EU did not exhaust all ways to come to an agreement over the fishing of herring with the Faroes.
The measures now adopted by the EU include the ban of imports of herring and mackerel from the Atlanto-Scandian stocks that have been caught under the control of the Faroe Islands as well as fishery products containing or made of such fish.
The measures also include restrictions on the use of EU ports by vessels fishing for the herring and mackerel stocks under the control of the Faroe Islands. This means that some Faroese vessels will not be allowed to dock in EU ports, except in cases of emergency.
European Commissioner for Maritime and Fisheries Affairs, Maria Damanaki said: "The imposition of such measures is always done as a very last resort. The Faroese could have put a stop to their unsustainable fishing but decided not to do so. It is now clear to all that the EU is determined to use all the tools at its disposal to protect the long-term sustainability of stocks."
Responding to the Commission's announcement, the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands, Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen, said he was deeply disappointed with the decision.
“The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea foresees dispute settlement mechanisms which are available for the EU with regard to exactly such disputes. It is therefore deeply disappointing to learn that the EU has decided to pursue the adoption of the coercive economic measures. The EU has the audacity to claim, in its own press statement, that it has “exhausted all other means” to find a negotiated solution. This is quite clearly not the case, and many EU member states have also acknowledged this situation,” said Mr Johannesen.
In the notification to the EU on Friday 16 August, the Faroe Islands underlined that the adoption of the contemplated coercive economic measures would further aggravate the dispute with the EU, given the difficulties such adoption would create with regard to the coastal State negotiations for a joint management with regard to the Atlanto-Scandian herring. A meeting of coastal states to the herring has been scheduled for 2-3 September in London.
Mr Johannesen added: “It is of great concern that the EU has deliberately chosen to ignore such general principles of international law. I fear that this move will have prejudicial effects on the likelihood for the coastal States to reach agreement on allocation of the Atlanto-Scandian herring. Such negotiations need to be balanced and unimpeded, and conducted in the spirit of mutual cooperation.”
The European Commission stated that, despite its best efforts to find a negotiated solution and the repeated warnings that measures could be adopted, the Faroese refused to end their unsustainable fishing of the stock. Having exhausted all other means, the Commission decided to make use of the powers granted by the Trade Instrument in order to encourage the Faroe Islands to contribute to the conservation of the stock. These measures received the clear support of Member States in the Committee for Fisheries and Aquaculture on 31 July 2013.
Whilst a similar dispute exists with Iceland on the management of the North-East Atlantic mackerel stock, the Commission has not yet adopted measures in this respect. However, the Commission is now taking the initial steps towards the application of the Trade Instrument in this case as well.
Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.