EU threatens trade sanctions in Faroes herring spat

The European Commission said Wednesday it is ready to slap sanctions on the Faroe Islands in a row over herring fisheries which it claims are being massively over-exploited.

"The Committee for Fisheries and Aquaculture has today provided a favourable opinion backing a proposal of the European Commission for a regulation adopting trade measures with regard to the Faroe Islands," the Commission said.

This is likely to result in "for instance, import prohibitions and prohibitions to land in EU ports," it said, after the Faroes failed to offer any concessions following a Commission warning in May.

The row centres on the Faroes' decision to more than treble its herring quota, which the Commission said "jeopardises the long term sustainability of the stock (and) ... constitutes a unilateral disruption of the joint management of a crucial fishery stock."

The final decision is due over the course of August.

The Commission said that "given the gravity of the situation and the lack of cooperation from the Faroese authorities, the Commission had no option but to ensure all necessary steps are taken to tackle unsustainable fishing activities."

The Faroe Islands and Iceland are locked in a similar dispute over mackerel and could face action too in due course.

The Faroes archipelago is home to just about 50,000 people, with fishing one of the mainstays of the economy. It is an autonomous Danish territory but is not a part of the EU.