At the heart of the North-East Atlantic Ocean lie the Faroe Islands – open on all sides to the heaving ocean currents that create a unique ecosystem around it. This is a place where the sea and its resources are of vital importance.
Few other countries today have such a high level of dependency on the sea and its resources as the Faroe Islands. They strive to safeguard the sea as a rich source of income and livelihood for their people and their nation, now and in the future. Therefore, the Faroe Islands have a big stake and a major responsibility in ensuring the sustainable use of marine resources.
Open seas on all sides, and nothing to hinder or weaken these strong currents. Large masses of ocean water flow constantly over the shelves and banks around the Faroes, and pollutants have no chance to accumulate anywhere in the environment. This is why the sea around the Faroe Islands is so clean, and why the fish from the Faroese shelves are the cleanest in the world. It is truly an Eldorado, not just for the fish, but also for scientists who study marine life and ecosystems.
Fishing has been the main source of income for the Faroe Islands since the 1920s. Fish and fish products (including farmed fish) represent between 90 and 95 per cent of the goods for export, and around 20 per cent of GDP.
A large variety of fish stocks is utilised, both within the 200-mile exclusive fisheries zone of the Faroe Islands, as well as in other nations’ zones through fisheries agreements and in international waters.
The Faroe Islands have become a significant actor in the global market of fish trade, mainly as exporters to the EU as well as to non-EU countries.
The most important fish species in the Faroese fishing industry include cod, haddock and saithe, along with pelagic species such as herring, blue whiting and mackerel. Many Faroese fish products have become renowned for their high quality, such as lobster, salmon and the exclusive Faroe Bank Cod.
The clean, temperate waters and strong currents in the fjords around the Faroe Islands are ideal for fish farming. The farming of Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout is an important and growing part of total Faroese fish production and represents a significant and growing component of Faroese economic activity. Also, the Faroese fish farming industry has in recent years become an important player on the international market for farmed fish.
The government of the Faroe Islands allocates significant resources to secure a controlled and sustainable utilisation of fish stocks. This is administered through an effort based regulatary system, managed by the Ministry of Fisheries on the basis of national and international scientiffic advise.
Marine research in the Faroe Islands aims to provide the best possible scientific basis for sustainable exploitation of marine resources. This research is incorporated into the specialist working groups under the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), which then provide the basis for the Faroese Marine Research Institute’s advice to the Government.