The Faroe Islands extends their fisheries agreement with Russia as political opposition from inside the nation’s parliament evaporated
The Faroe Islands will continue their fisheries agreement with Russia as political opposition from inside the nation’s parliament somewhat, evaporated.
Despite opposition parties’ earlier stance on the agreement, yesterday, the Islands’ government concluding there was “broad” political support and decided on a new one-year agreement with Russia.
This was confirmed by Árni Skaale, the Faroese Minister of Fisheries who said:
“It is undoubtedly the only right thing to do in this situation for the Faroe Islands, and I am happy that all parties in the Lagtinget, except one, are on board and see the sense and the rational in that this is the only right thing to do.”
In the end, only one party, the Sjálvstýri party with one seat in the Faroese parliament, decided to vote against extending the agreement.
According to the Fisheries Minister, the Faroese government will start negotiations with the Russians as early as today and it is hoped that both countries will have reached an agreement by tomorrow, Friday 25 November.
The fishing agreement with Russia is a form of barter. It means that Russia gives the Faroe Islands a quota to fish mainly for cod in the Barents Sea, while Russian ships can primarily fish for blue whiting in Faroese waters and tranship the catch in Faroese ports.
The agreement with Russia has existed since 1977 and has been renegotiated every year.
But after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the agreement has been hotly debated and met with opposition both from the opposition, internally in the Faroese government and from Danish politicians.
Among others from the now former government party, Miðflokkurin.
The chairman of the party, Jenis av Rana, has previously said that the Faroe Islands should stop all cooperation with Russia, but the criticism bounces off the Fisheries Minister who says that this is the most important fisheries agreement the Faroe Islands have. He said:
“We have had an agreement with Russia since 1977. In the 45 years we have had an agreement with Russia, Russia has been at war for approximately 35 of those years. So, all parties have made an agreement with Russia, whether it was in peacetime or wartime. That situation is no different than it has always been.”
He also refers to the fact that food supplies are exempt from the EU’s sanctions against Russia.
Arguing against the agreement, Associate Professor in economics at the University of the Faroe Islands, Hans Ellefsen, has previously said that it is not something that seriously threatens the Faroese economy in general if the agreement with Russia is terminated.
This is because, as previously mentioned, the agreement is a form of exchange agreement, and that Faroese trawlers can in principle themselves fish what the Russians fish today in Faroese waters, if the industry is restructured.
And it may well be possible in the long run to fish the Russian quota of blue whiting in Faroese waters, Árni Skaale explains, but emphasizes at the same time.
“In the short term, it would be something that would have catastrophic consequences for the Faroese economy, and something that would mean that in the short term we would have major problems in the Faroe Islands.”
The fisheries agreement between the Faroe Islands and Russia
- Has been around since 1977.
- The agreement means that Faroese trawlers can primarily fish for cod in the Barents Sea, while Russian trawlers can primarily catch blue whiting in the Faroe Islands.
- The fishing agreement between the Faroe Islands and Russia is usually renegotiated in November, when the quota distribution for the coming year is agreed upon.
- Four Faroese shipping companies have quota rights to fish in the Barents Sea.
- Food supplies are exempt from EU sanctions against Russia.