SWEEPING changes to way the Faroe Islands manages its fishing industry have just been approved by the Løgting, the country’s parliament.
The reforms largely exclude foreign ownership of quotas and puts the entire industry under the direct control of the 50,000 people who make up the country’s population.
The bill, called the Act on Management of Marine Resources, states that ‘all living marine resources in Faroese waters are property of the people of the Faroe Islands, and as such, fishing licences may never become private property, neither by law nor by practice’.
Furthermore, fishing licences cannot be traded directly between private buyers. To change hands, licences must be sold via public auctions.
The fisheries reform has been one of the left of centre government’s main objectives since taking office in 2015.
Fisheries minister Høgni Hoydal said he was delighted that the bill has been passed, saying: ‘The reform is an historic milestone, marking a new era in the Faroese fishing industry.’
The reform is built on three main pillars:
- Sustainable fishing and maintenance of fish stocks. The long-term strategy for the administration and utilisation of marine resources is to be designed and implemented for each stock in order to maintain the industry and the fish stock at a sustainable level. From 2019, Faroese long liners and trawlers that fish demersal fish in Faroese waters will no longer be allocated fishing days based on the current days-at-sea systems. Instead, they will be allocated a quota which specifies how much they are allowed to fish annually.
- Rights and access to fishing licences. A reforming element in the new fisheries legislation is the implementation of open public quota auctions. The percentage of how much will be auctioned changes according to fish species. Some 15 per cent of the overall quotas for mackerel and herring and 25 per cent of the overall quotas for blue whiting will be publicly auctioned, as will 15 per cent of the overall Faroese quota for demersal (cod, haddock, and so on) fisheries in other (non-Faroese) waters. For demersal fisheries in Faroese waters, quotas will only be auctioned off when the overall catch by Faroese vessels exceeds 20,000 tonnes for cod, 12,000 tonnes for haddock and 40,000 tonnes for saithe, which is higher than current expected quotas.
- Industry requirements and value added. Fishing licences may only be granted to Faroese owned operators. In order to take part in Faroese fisheries, the company or individual must be registered and pay taxes in the Faroe Islands, as well as pay their crew in accordance with Faroese labour market rules and agreements. A six-year plan for the turnover of foreign ownership will be implemented, although special rules apply for Icelandic ownership with a seven-year plan.
Although part of the Kingdom of Denmark, the Faroe Islands is a self-governing archipelago made up of 18 rocky, volcanic islands. Danish is spoken widely, but it also has its own language.