“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.