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Faroe Islands renew fishing quota deal with Russia

Denmark's autonomous Faroe Islands have renewed a fishing quota deal with Russia for one year despite Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, a local minister said on Saturday.

Faroe Islands
Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash

“The Faroe Islands are totally right to extend their existing fishing agreement with Russia,” the North Atlantic archipelago’s minister of fisheries Arni Skaale told the Jyllands-Posten daily.

He added however that the islands, which are not part of the European Union, condemned “all form of war – also the war in Ukraine” after Russian forces invaded in February.

The agreement has been in place since 1977 and is renewable each year.

It lays out catch quotas for cod, haddock, whiting and herring in the Barents Sea north of Russia for Faroese fishermen, and in waters off the coast of the Faroe Islands for Russian fishing boats.

Dependent on fishing

The autonomous territory is highly dependent on fishing for its income, and the fisheries ministry says the deal with Russia covers 5 percent of its GDP.

Russia has become a key commercial partner of the Faroe Islands since they and neighbouring Iceland fell out with the European Union – including Denmark – between 2010 and 2014 over mackerel and herring quotas.

An EU embargo on Faroese fish harmed the economy of the territory, which then turned to other markets.

“Today we only have free trade agreements with six countries – and not with the European Union,” said Skaale.

“If we cut ourselves off from one of these markets, it could be problematic for the whole of the next generation.”

Alternatives to be considered

Authorities on the archipelago have however said they would think about alternatives to the deal with Russia after local parliamentary polls on December 8.

Last month, neighbouring Norway – a NATO member – and Russia also agreed on catch quotas in the Barents Sea for next year.

Home to some 54,000 inhabitants, the Faroe Islands have been largely autonomous from Denmark since 1948.

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POLITICS

Denmark’s Social Democrats in worst opinion poll since 2015

Amid criticism over the government’s plan to abolish the Great Prayer Day holiday, Denmark’s biggest party the Social Democrats has received its worst opinion poll result for eight years.

Denmark’s Social Democrats in worst opinion poll since 2015

The poll, publish on Monday by institute Voxmeter on behalf of news wire Ritzau, places the Social Democrats on 22.8 points. That is some 4.7 points less than the party’s vote share at the election on November 1st.

The Social Democrats took 50 of parliament’s 179 seats at the election, making them comfortably the largest party in parliament. That number would be cut to 40 seats with Monday’s poll numbers.

The opinion poll result is meanwhile the lowest the party has had since January 2015, when it was in government under former leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

The poll carries a statistic uncertainty level of 2.6 percent.

The two other parties in the coalition government, the centrist Moderates and centre-right Liberal (Venstre) party, also suffer in the poll but to a lesser degree.

The Liberals have 11.5 percent or 20 seats according to the poll, with the Moderates at 8 percent or 14 seats.

The three parties have a combined 89 seats in parliament, but the poll would reduce them to 74 seats and mean they would no longer have the basis for a majority government.

A key challenge for the government currently is its unpopular plan to abolish the Great Prayer Day (Store Bededag) public holiday, in a move it says will enable increased spending in defence to meet Nato targets ahead of the current schedule.

The policy has met with criticism from trade unionsthe church and opposition parties, while the military itself has also distanced itself from the plan.

READ ALSO: Danish economists say abolition of Great Prayer Day is ‘not necessary’

As of Monday, a petition against scrapping the holiday had been signed just under 450,000 times.

A demonstration against the government’s bill to abolish the holiday is planned to take place next Sunday in Copenhagen.

While the government has seen poll numbers suffer, opposition parties have made headway.

The centre-left Socialist People’s Party (SF) is now at 13.5 percent after going into opposition after the election. That makes SF the second-largest party in Denmark according to the poll.

Libertarian party Liberal Alliance moves up to 10.6 percent, almost 3 points more than its election result.

The far-right Nye Borgerlige party falls to 2.5 percent following an internal power struggle.

The poll is based on responses from 1004 representative voters aged 18 or over.

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