Faroe Islands 2018
Faroe Islands. The dissatisfaction with the self-government was great since a new fishing law was adopted before the New Year. In an opinion poll at the beginning of the year, 60% of Faroese wanted new elections. Business was against the law, which states that all marine resources are the property of the people and that fishing licenses can not be private property but must be sold and bought under public action. In addition, from 2019 large vessels will not be allowed to fish for a certain number of days, but must stay within specified catch quotas, which are determined by the size of the fish stock.
In May, the Faroe Islands and Greenland agreed to stop commercial salmon fishing in their waters for twelve years to allow adult wild salmon in the Atlantic to return to playgrounds in rivers in Canada, the United States and Europe. In this way, it is hoped that the salmon population will increase significantly after years of decline due to overfishing and warmer climates. Salmon from a few thousand rivers and rivers are usually collected in Faroese and Greenlandic fishing waters.
After several years of good fishing, the country’s economy entered 2018 with a GDP growth of 5%. Unemployment was about 2%, half against the Danish one. The economy of the Faroe Islands was also more independent of Denmark than before. Since 2000, the Danish budget contribution has fallen from more than a tenth of the Faroe Islands’ GDP to just over 3%.
The Faroe Islands did not participate in the international sanctions against the Russian Federation when the Russian regime in the spring was accused of being behind a nervous gas attack in England. Denmark expelled Russian diplomats, but the Tórshavn government said it needed to support the Russian Federation, which had supported the Faroe Islands earlier (when the EU boycotted the Faroese herring and mackerel in 2013 in dispute over fishing quotas).
The government acknowledged that the Faroe Islands could not afford to lose the important Russian market. The share of Faroese fish exports going to the Russian Federation has increased to 29%, making the Faroe Islands the largest supplier of fish to the Russian Federation. At the same time, the share of fish exports to the EU in five years has decreased from four-fifths to just over two-fifths.
During the year, the Faroe Islands signed a trade agreement with the Euroasian Union, where the Russian Federation is a leading nation and more or less forced into its neighboring countries. The agreement was viewed negatively by Denmark, which participates in EU actions to isolate the Russian Federation and stop the Kremlin’s power policy towards its neighbors. Copenhagen feared that President Vladimir Putin would use the agreement with the Faroe Islands for propaganda purposes. The Faroese government responded by accusing Copenhagen of double morality through trade with Saudi Arabia, which Denmark does not consider can afford to repel. In Tórshavn it was pointed out that the Faroe Islands are extremely vulnerable because the country is small and fishing is the only major commodity.
This year’s election slaughter included 210 gate whales, and the Faroe Islands were subjected to international criticism. At a debate in the Lagting, the Minister of Fisheries said that the government does not intend to change about whaling.
Catalonia’s president and separatist leader Carles Puigdemont visited the Faroe Islands in October. Puigdemont said at a conference in Tórshavn that the Spanish government has a part to learn from the Danish attitude towards the self-governing Faroe Islands. Denmark’s way of dealing with the issue of Faroese independence with understanding, dialogue and respect is the only way to solve the problems, according to Puigdemont.