WTO Dispute Settlement Body

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The ‘Mackerel War’ Goes to the WTO

In a typical David and Goliath story, the Faroe Islands - a small archipelago situated northwest of Scotland, halfway between Iceland and Norway, and inhabited by less than 50,000 people - have  requested consultations with the European Union under the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Understanding. The dispute, which concerns fishing rights in the North Atlantic, has been dubbed the ‘mackerel war’ although it primarily concerns herring - mackerel being described as an ‘associated’ species. Atlanto-Scandian herring is the largest herring stock in the world. Heavy exploitation due to overfishing led the stock to collapse and to the cessation of all fishing from the early 1970s to the 1990s. Atlantic herring is highly migratory and during its life cycle it migrates between the 200-miles EEZs of several States. Today, fishing quotas are jointly managed by the Faroes, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and the EU under the Atlanto Scandian Management Arrangements. In recent years, the Faroes have been catching about 17 percent of the entire quota, although their allocated share is approximately five percent. The Faroes…

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