Faroese launch WTO dispute over fishing restrictions

faroe flagThe Faroe Islands have gone to the World Trade Organization to challenge an EU ban on importing Faroese mackerel and herring and restrictions on the island nation’s ships entering EU ports.

Faroese Prime Minister Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen said the EU’s actions go against the basic provisions of the WTO Agreement. He pointed out that contrary to EU claims that the measures have been taken to conserve Atlanto-Scandian herring, they actually seem designed to protect EU industry needs.

The EU banned imports from the Faroe Islands in August in an ongoing dispute about alleged over-fishing on the islands’ part, and EU officials warned that they will take similar action against Iceland.

Atlanto-Scandian herring stock was controlled jointly by Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway, Russia and the EU until this year. The Faroese claim the herring stock allocation is an issue for ongoing negotiations between the five states.

The Faroese state that the EU has not accepted its 105,230-tonne catch limit, and wants it reduced to 31,000 tonnes.

This is the first WTO dispute the island group has been involved in. the EU now has 60 days to resolve the dispute. If it fails to do so, the Faroese could request that the WTO adjudicates.