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Herring war escalates

THE FAROE Islands are appealing to an international arbitration tribunal after the European Union decided to go ahead with sanctions against the Nordic country in the escalating dispute over herring quota.

Already referred to as the ‘herring war’, the Faroese claim the EU is in breach of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Meanwhile, Iceland intervened by saying the EU is conducting an on-going campaign of threats with the aim to secure a larger quota share.

The row between the EU and the two island states erupted in 2009 after Faroe and Iceland both allocated themselves significantly increased shares in the jointly fished shoals of Atlanto-Scandian herring and mackerel.

Faroe and Iceland both claim that due to migratory changes the fish now spend more time in their national waters.

Scottish fishermen reacted by pressing Europe to impose sanctions against Faroe which the EU agreed to do at the end of July.

A meeting between Faroe, Iceland, Russia, Norway and the EU to discuss next year’s quota allocation has meanwhile been scheduled to 2 and 3 September.

The key issue is the need for a revised, equitable allocation of the stock, which also better reflects the occurrence of herring in Faroese waters, a Faroese government spokesman said.

The country’s prime minister Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen said on Friday: “Consultations between all five coastal states need to continue in earnest if we are going to find joint agreement on the allocation.

“The EU’s intention to impose unilateral coercive economic measures against the Faroe Islands has already compromised the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation which is crucial to ensuring that real progress can be made on joint management of this valuable shared fish stock.

“If the EU actually implements such measures, the basis for balanced multilateral negotiations will clearly be called into serious question.”

Iceland’s prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson issued a statement saying: “Icelandic fisheries management policy has for many years assured the sustainable utilisation of marine resources, unlike the EU common fisheries policy.

“In recent months the European Union (EU) has conducted an on-going campaign of threats of coercive measures against Iceland and the Faroe Islands with the objective of gaining advantages in multilateral negotiations on the management of shared fish stocks.

“This conduct is in breach of various obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and general international law, in particular the obligation on coastal states to agree together on measures to assure the protection and development of a common stock.”