16.08.2013 · The Government

The Faroe Islands takes the EU to international tribunal over intended economic measures

The Faroe Islands have today referred the use of threats of coercive economic measures by the European Union, in relation to the Atlanto-Scandian herring, to an arbitral tribunal under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

A meeting of coastal states to the Atlanto-Scandian herring has been scheduled for 2 and 3 September to discuss the joint management of the herring stock. In addition to the Faroe Islands and the EU, the coastal states also include Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation. The key issue is the need for a revised, equitable allocation of the stock, which also better reflects the occurrence of herring in Faroese waters.

Despite agreeing to participate in these planned consultations, the EU decided on 31 July to proceed with imposing coercive economic measures against the Faroe Islands, targeting Faroese imports to the EU of not only herring but also mackerel, and preventing their transport through EU ports.

The Government of the Faroes has consequently notified the EU that it has today brought the dispute to an international arbitral tribunal, requesting that the EU be declared in breach of its obligations under UNCLOS and ordered to refrain from the threat or adoption of coercive economic measures on the Faroe Islands.
In its notification, the Government of the Faroes underlines that the EU actions in this matter are instrumental in preventing the cooperation necessary to reach agreement on the Atlanto-Scandian herring and contravene its obligations to resolve disputes by peaceful means.

The EU is also notified that, consistent with international law, there is an obligation on parties to a dispute to refrain from any measures capable of prejudicing the decision and, in general, avoid taking any steps which might aggravate or extend the dispute, when it has been referred to an international judicial or arbitral forum

Commenting on the Government’s decision to pursue international arbitration, Prime Minister Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen said: “Consultations between all five coastal states need to continue in earnest if we are going to find joint agreement on the allocation of the herring. The EU’s intention to impose unilateral coercive economic measures against the Faroe Islands has already compromised the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation which is crucial to ensuring that real progress can be made on joint management of this valuable shared fish stock. If the EU actually implements such measures, the basis for balanced multilateral negotiations will clearly be called into serious question.”

For further information, please contact Mr Páll Nolsøe, Communications Adviser, tel: + 298 551028, email: palln@tinganes.fo