Wednesday, 31 July 2013

They do not listen to us ...

... though they should. This will end in tears. The EU has shown itself to be determined to destroy the economy of the Faroe Islands and, if possible, of Iceland. That will show those upstart Vikings. Fancy not wanting to join such a successful organization as the European Union with its outstandingly successful common fisheries policy. Ha!

The European Commission, as the Scotsman reports

today finally moved to impose trade sanctions against the Faroe Islands because of their continued refusal to enter into an international agreement on the division of the North Atlantic herring stock.

A total ban on the import of Faroese catches of both herring and mackerel into European ports is to be brought into force before the end of August in a major blow for the Nordic nation’s fishing industry. Similar sanctions are expected to be imposed in the near future against Iceland on mackerel.

Last year Icelandic vessels landed 123,000 tonnes of mackerel while Faroese boats took 159,000 tonnes of mackerel, one of the most important catches for Scotland’s powerful pelagic fleet.

Member States have agreed to impose sanctions on the trade of both herring and mackerel from the Faroes to the EU. Mackerel has been included in this EU sanctions package because the Faroese catch the mackerel in association with landings of Atlanto-Scandian herring.

And there may be scope under the sanctions deal to introduce further fish products in the trade ban at a later date. Future sanctions could include fishmeal, fish oil and Faroese salmon products because herring is used in the manufacture of their feed.

The sanctions were welcomed by the leaders of Scotland’s pelagic fleet who have been calling for action for more than two years.

If only those organizations had been so tough with the European Union but that is past praying for. As this blog has suggested a number of times, British fishermen and their organizations ought to look at what the scientific evidence is (not so far disproved by anybody) and try to negotiate deals with the Icelanders and the Faroese. Probably that, too, is past praying for. Meanwhile, the other side of the story is presented by Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen, the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands, whose political status is a little complicated but who are, nevertheless, more independent than the United Kingdom is. They can decide on their own domestic policy, for instance.

The article has been published by EurActiv and EUObserver and is worth reading in full.

The EU on 31 July will decide whether to adopt coercive economic measures against the Faroe Islands, over a dispute about the quota allocation of Atlanto-Scandian herring.

Not only does the proposed EU action contravene the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and circumvent available procedures to deal with such disputes, it is also based on inaccurate allegations and is counterproductive to a reaching a negotiated solution.

Underpinning the European Commission’s proposal to implement economic measures against the Faroe Islands is the assertion by European Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, that the Faroe Islands have “left the negotiation table” on Atlanto-Scandian herring.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Faroese Government has been repeatedly calling for negotiations between all coastal states to discuss a revision of the sharing arrangement for this important and very valuable shared fish stock in the Northeast Atlantic.

Multilateral management of shared fish stocks should always be based on the best available scientific information on the size and behaviour of the stock.

We have been witness in recent years to a marked increase in herring in Faroese waters, and for longer periods. Assessments by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) in 2011 and 2012 confirm these new trends and the increased dependency of the herring on maritime areas within Faroese jurisdiction.

Then again, even if sanity prevailed in this country we could not negotiate with either Iceland or the Faroe Islands because we do not control our fisheries or our fishing industry. We have to go along with decisions taken in Brussels for reasons that have nothing to do with fishing and everything with politics. It is not a matter for rejoicing, though.


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