The Faroe Islands reform the fisheries management

The Faroese Parliament has passed a bill that aims to reform its national fishery policies. 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 licenses may never become private property, neither by law nor by practice according to

Furthermore, fishing licenses cannot be traded directly between private buyers. To change hands, licenses must be sold via public auctions.

The fisheries reform has been one of the government’s main objectives since taking office in 2015, it said in a press release.

“The reform is an historic milestone, marking a new era in the Faroese fishing industry,” said Hogni Hoydal, minister of fisheries.

The reform is built on three main pillars.

Firstly, the long-term strategy for the administration and utilization 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 longliners 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.

Secondly, 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.

15% of the overall quotas for mackerel and herring and 25% of the overall quotas for blue whiting will be publicly auctioned, as will 15% of the overall Faroese quota for demersal 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 metric tons for cod, 12,000t for haddock and 40,000t for saithe, which is higher than current expected quotas.

Other quotas can also be auctioned off if there are increases in quota levels or if new fish stocks appear.

The rights will be sold as short-term or long-term licenses and buyers are obligated to use them. Any rights that go unused will be restored to the government.

All present actors in the industry will have access to the remaining quota, but they will be required to pay a resource fee in accordance to the profit in the industry in preceding years.

Rules regarding concentration of access to fishing rights will be implemented. Antitrust limits for the collective Faroese fishing licenses are set at 20% and for the three main fisheries — pelagic, local demersal, foreign demersal — the antitrust limit is set at 35%. These rules are not retrospective and do not include auctioned licenses that are valid for a year or less.

Up to 8.5% of the collective quotas for all types of fish can be allocated as development quotas and will be part of development plans for the industry across the islands.

Thirdly, fishing licenses 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 labor market rules and agreements.

A six year plan for the turnover of foreign ownership will be implemented. Special rules apply for Icelandic ownership with a seven year plan. These rules do not apply for finance of fishing companies.

To increase value added in the industry, all fish caught should be landed in the Faroe Islands, and eventually vessels will be required to land all parts of the fish, including head, back, liver, guts and other bi-products. The industry will be given time to adjust to these changes.

Finally, at least 25% of fish caught will be sold at approved auctions – however, this excludes fish caught under licenses bought on the public auctions.

The Act also states that the reform will be reviewed and revised each year. The minister of fisheries will present a report to parliament, detailing changes in the industry and other relevant factors as background.


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