* Still needs Commission endorsement
* Faroes says quota justified by higher stocks
* Says proposed EU measures illegal, counterproductive
BRUSSELS, July 31 The European Union's member
states supported sanctions against the Faroe Islands, which
could be an import ban or closing its ports to its boats, to
protest the islands' decision to treble the limit on herring
After Wednesday's political backing from diplomats
representing the EU's 28 member states, the measures require a
final endorsement from the executive European Commission, which
is expected over the coming weeks, a Commission spokesman said.
The move follows months of haggling after the Faroe Islands
earlier this year unilaterally increased its existing quota by
more than three times the allocations it would have got under EU
policy, the Commission said.
The Faroe Islands, a self-governed territory within the
Danish Realm and not part of the European Union, says 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.
The dispute has drawn comparisons with the "cod wars" of the
1950s and 1970s between Britain and Iceland.
"Given the gravity of the situation and the lack of
cooperation from the Faroese authorities, we had no option but
to move ahead and take all necessary steps in ensuring a
sustainable herring fishery managed in a joint manner by all
coastal states concerned," Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki
said in a statement.
Scientists have laid out the case for a 26 percent cut in
overall catches of herring, which the Faroe Islands shares with
the European Union, Russia, Norway and Iceland.
The Faroes Prime Minister Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen said the
EU's proposed "coercive economic measures" were illegal and
"Only multilateral negotiations between all five coastal
states (the European Union, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway and
the Russian Federation) can provide a joint management
arrangement for the Atlanto-Scandian herring," he said in a
(Reporting by Barbara Lewis and Claire Davenport; editing by