Faroe Islands. The Faroe Islands ended up in a fishing war with the EU during the year. The talks on the mackerel quotas had previously collapsed, and in January the Faroe Islands also left negotiations on the herring quotas in the Northeast Atlantic. In Tórshavn, the Faroese herring ratio of 5% was considered to be far too low, while Norway received 61% of the quota in the agreement between the EU, Norway, the Russian Federation and Iceland.
The total herring rate for the year had then been reduced compared to the previous year, with reference to weak growth. The Faroe Islands protested, claiming that the herring stock has grown significantly instead. In March, more than threefold, the Faroe Islands unilaterally increased their catch quota for herring during the year to around 17%.
According to the Faroese government, large quantities of herring had moved into Faroese water in recent years and proved to stay there longer than before. Therefore, the Faroe Islands rejected the old herring quota as unfair.
Scottish fishermen accused the Faroese of acting as “pirates”, and the EU announced sanctions. Brussels believed that the Faroe Islands were engaged in overfishing that threatened fish stocks in the North Atlantic.
The Faroese mackerel quota had been raised unilaterally by 2010, and during the year the EU called for the Faroe Islands to lower it. But the Tórshavn government was sticking to its quotas, and in August the EU imposed sanctions by stopping all imports of herring and mackerel from Faroese trawlers in EU ports. Herring and mackerel make up a third of the Faroe’s exports, and much of what went to the EU was now shipped to the Russian Federation, Asia and Africa.
In November, the Faroe Islands decided to turn to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to end the EU trade sanctions. According to Faroese government head Kaj Leo Johannesen, the EU’s actions were in violation of the WTO agreement, and he accused the Union of wanting to protect its own economic interests rather than the fish stocks in the North Atlantic.
The Faroe Islands are not a member of the WTO and were therefore authorized by the mother country of Denmark to take the conflict with the EU to the WTO. The Danish government voted against the EU’s decision on sanctions against the Faroe Islands and insisted that the dispute should be resolved in negotiations. But Denmark adhered to the sanctions that were imposed on the ban on unloading Faroese catches even in Danish ports.
The Faroe Islands are part of the Danish so-called Community but have self-government and are not a member of the EU.