* EU wants to protect herring stocks in Northeast Atlantic
* Faroe Islands agrees to new catch-limit for herring
By Anna Nicolaou
BRUSSELS, June 11 The European Commission could
lift its import ban on herring from the Faroe Islands within
months after reaching a deal to protect fish stocks in the
Atlantic, it said on Wednesday.
EU authorities banned imports of herring and mackerel from
the Faroe Islands in August in a row over alleged over-fishing,
with the world's biggest fish importer saying it had to protect
a fish stock referred to as the Atlanto-Scandian herring.
The Faroe Islands, a self-governed territory within the
Danish Realm and not part of the European Union, said at the
time that the EU rules do not give it a sufficient share of the
herring catch and that a higher quota is justified by an
increase in the number of herring in its waters.
On Wednesday, the European Commission said the Faroe Islands
had agreed to a new catch limit for Atlanto-Scandian herring.
Once that limit is fixed, the EU would end the ban on Faroese
"After long and intensive negotiations, I am satisfied that
we can soon consider the herring dispute as something of the
past," European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Maria Damanaki said in a statement.
For decades Europe has been taking fish from the sea faster
than they can be reproduce themselves, but a reform programme
seeks to recover fish stocks and fish at sustainable levels by
Until 2012, the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock was managed
jointly by Norway, Russia, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and the
European Union. Last year, the Faroese unilaterally decided to
treble its herring quota, prompting the EU ban of herring and
mackerel and preventing some boats from docking at EU ports.
The Faroe Islands, a small archipelago in the north Atlantic
Ocean halfway between Norway and Iceland, responded by launching
a case with the World Trade Organization (WTO), accusing the EU
of violating international maritime law.
The row eased in March, when the EU settled a dispute over
mackerel with the Faroe Islands and Norway.
Once the European Union ends its trade ban, the Faroese have
agreed to withdraw their case with the WTO, the Commission said.
The Commission says that it has helped cut the number of
overfished stocks in the northeast Atlantic to 39 percent from
94 percent in 2005, with all catch limits now decided on the
basis of scientific advice.
From 2019, caught fish can no longer be thrown overboard, a
rule aimed at encouraging fishermen to be more selective about
what they catch and reduce unwanted catches. Caught fish must be
used for food or in pharmaceuticals. At the moment, a fifth of
caught fish is thrown back into the water.
(Editing by Robin Emmott and James Macharia)