Faroe Islands in EU herring spat

We’ve had cod wars, so why not herring wars?

Herring trade sanctions begin against Faroe Islands

Slaettaberg is one of only 10 boats which make up the Faroese pelagic fleet.

EU trade sanctions against the Faroe Islands have now been introduced because of an international dispute over who has the right to fish herring.

Tensions have been growing since the small North Atlantic country trebled its previous share of the catch.

The sanctions mean European countries are banned from importing herring landed by the Faroese.

In the Faroese capital Torshavn there are boats everywhere – rowing boats, cruisers, yachts and even a tall ship.

But, strangely, no herring boats.

Torshavn, the Faroese capital, is home to boats of many varieties.

And yet Government House, which overlooks the waters, has become embroiled in a big fight because of them. Further round the coast is the small community of Kollafjordur where a large boat, the Slaettaberg, is unloading its catch of herring.

She is one of only 10 boats which make up this country’s pelagic fleet, compared with 29 in the UK.

Bogi Jacobsen, a Faroese skipper, told me his government is right to take on Europe.

“We know that the EU are fishing a lot more than the quota is,” he said.

“They are allowed to throw fish out, not taken off the quota so the fact is this is not about sustainability, as stated by the EU.

“This is about who has the right to fish, who has the right to the quota.”

The Faroe Islands has a population of just 50,000, and until 2012 their share of all the herring available was 5%.

But this year, without agreement, they decided to land 17%.

Prime Minister Kaj Leo Johannesen told me they were right to catch more.

He said: “The mackerel and the herring is in huge quantities much more into our area and that is what we are reacting on, that we own a bigger part of this stock.”

He told me the migration patterns of herring are changing, that they are eating more food in Faroese waters and that that is damaging other stocks.

‘Negotiated solution’

So punishing the Faroes for wanting more, he believes, is wrong.

“It’s not the guy who is fishing 5% who is destroying the stock, it is the guy who is fishing 95%.

“But we hope we will have a negotiated solution.”

Faroese PM Kaj Leo Johannesen (right) was visited by Danish Foreign Secretary Villy Sovndal.

In town is the Foreign Secretary of Denmark, Villy Sovndal, here to show his support to a nation which is part of the Danish kingdom.But as an EU member, his country is in an awkward position.

The Danes have no plans to defy the European ruling but the dispute has been referred to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas.

Asked what the UN convention should decide he said: “I am not the judge, I leave it to the judges to take that decision.”

But challenged that his response did not sound like a wholehearted support he repeated: “No, I just say I am not the judge, it is not Denmark that is going to decide this matter.”

Scotland’s fishermen, where the UK’s pelagic fleet is largely based, have welcomed the introduction of sanctions and describe what the Faroese are doing as an “astonishing act of irresponsibility”.

Increasing markets

Iceland, also failing to reach agreed settlements with the other coastal states, says: “The extreme action is not the way to solve a disagreement between friendly countries.

“While we do not condone the Faroe Islands’ approach to managing its herring quotas, we object on the strongest possible terms to the EU’s coercive measures.”

Nobody will admit how much the sanctions will hurt the Faroe Islands, instead saying they have increasing markets in Russia, the Far East and Africa.

But they will be back around the negotiating table in London next month.


“For their effort and commitment to counter piracy operations…”

EUNAVFOR ‘Operation Atalanta’ is the European Union’s counter-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia.

EU Naval Force Flagship Holds Operation Atalanta Medal Ceremony

EU Naval Force Flagship Holds Operation Atalanta Medal Ceremony

During their recent port visit to Djibouti, the EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) flagship, NRP Álvares Cabral held a medal ceremony on board. The ceremony was presided over by the EU NAVFOR Force Commander, Commodore Jorge Novo Palma and the Commanding Officer of NRP Álvares Cabral, Captain Nuno Sobral Domingues. The French Ambassador based in Djibouti, Mr René Forceville, and the Commander of French Forces in Djibouti, Major General Joel Rode were invited to attend the event.

The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) Atalanta Service Medal is an European military decoration awarded to personnel of the European Union Naval Force Somalia Operation Atalanta for their effort and commitment to counter piracy operations.

The Atalanta Medal can also be awarded to people who have provided outstanding support to the EU Naval Force.

On this occasion, Lieutenant Colonel Jean Luc Simonin, head of the logistics and personnel branch (J4) of the French Forces in Djibouti, was awarded the Atalanta medal for his outstanding dedication and exceptional contribution in support to the EU NAVFOR Support Element Atalanta during his tour duty from July 2010 to July 2013.

The EU NAVFOR Force Commander commented that “Awarding the Atalanta medal during this ceremony allows us to recognise those servicemen and women, who have shown outstanding dedication to the EU Naval Force. This has been the case with Lieutenant Colonel Jean Luc Simonin, members of the multinational EU NAVFOR Support Element Atalanta, the crew of the Spanish Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircrafe Orion Detachment, the Force Headquarters staff and the crew of NRP Álvares Cabral. I ask you to always remember the words on the reverse of the medal you have been awarded: “Pro pace unum”, meaning “united for peace”. Each one of you, using a specific skill, has contributed to the shared, collective effort to reduce piracy in the region of the Horn of Africa and helped strengthen stability in the region. I would like to underline to you all, and in particular to those awarded, that you should all be proud of the decisive contribution that has been achieved in the maritime security environment. However, we must remember that our mission is not over, our counter piracy success is reversible. We must remain committed, vigilant, agile and adaptable to continue to deter and repress piracy.”