EU issues herring, mackerel sanctions against Faroes


Sean Murphy, SeafoodSource online editor

Published on
August 19, 2013

The European Commission agreed today to begin sanctions against the Faroe Islands regarding Atlanto-Scandian herring and mackerel, and is “taking the initial steps” toward mackerel sanctions against Iceland, according to a statement from the commission.

Under the sanctions, the E.U. is banning imports of herring and mackerel from the Faroes, along with “fishery products containing or made of such fish.” The sanctions also include restrictions on the use of E.U. ports by Faroese fishing vessels that are fishing herring and mackerel.

“This means that some Faroese vessels will not be allowed to dock in E.U. ports, except in cases of emergency,” the commission said in its statement.

Both Iceland and the Faroes have clashed with the E.U. and Norway over quotas for both mackerel and herring since 2009. Both nations claim they are fishing an appropriate amount given migrations of both stocks to northern waters, but the E.U. and Norway have insisted that both countries are overfishing well beyond proper quotas for both species.

The dispute came to a head when the Faroes refused to sign a multi-national agreement in late 2012, which would have set a quota for that country’s mackerel and herring fishing. The commission alleges that the Faroes are now fishing three times as much as the quotas would have allowed. The commission’s action today follows threats last month of sanctions from Maria Damanaki, European commissioner for maritime and fisheries affairs.

"The imposition of such measures is always done as a very last resort,” Damanaki said. “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 E.U. is determined to use all the tools at its disposal to protect the long-term sustainability of stocks."

The commission said the October 2012 Trade Instrument, a law that grants the commission new powers to combat unsustainable fishing, grants the authority to levy the sanctions. The new sanctions are expected to take effect 7 days after publication in the Official Journal.

While the sanctions do not affect Iceland, the commission’s statement suggested further action, saying, “the commission is now taking the initial steps toward the application of the Trade Instrument in this case as well.”

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