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Issue #588

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Faroe Islands launch WTO dispute over EU fishing restrictions

By: | at 01:16 PM | International Trade  

The Faroe islands launched a trade dispute at the World Trade Organization to challenge a European Union ban on imports of Faroese herring and mackerel and restrictions on Faroese vessels entering EU ports.

“The measures implemented by the EU are in clear contravention of basic provisions of the WTO Agreement,” the office of Faroese Prime Minister Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen said in a statement.

“Contrary to claims by the EU that the measures are a means to conserve the Atlanto-Scandian herring, the coercive measures implemented by the EU against the Faroe Islands appear designed to protect EU industry interests.”

EU authorities banned the Faroese imports in August in an escalating row about alleged over-fishing, and EU officials said similar steps against Iceland would follow.

The Faroe Islands, a self-governed territory within the Danish Realm and not part of the European Union, has also brought its case to an arbitration tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Until this year, the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock was managed jointly by Norway, Russia, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and the European Union. The Faroese statement said the allocation of the herring stock was a matter for on-going negotiation between all five states.

According to the Faroese complaint, its catch limit of 105,230 tonnes has not been accepted by the European Union, which wants it restricted to 31,000 tonnes.

The Faroe Islands have never before been involved in a WTO dispute. The Islands are in the WTO by virtue of Denmark’s membership of the body, but unlike Denmark they are not covered by the EU’s membership of the WTO.

The EU has 60 days to try to resolve the dispute. After that the Faroes could ask the WTO to adjudicate. (Reuters)