Nor­way of­fers EU quota swap deal to set­tle dis­pute over ar­rested Lat­vian crab trawler

The Baltic Times - - BALTIC NEWS - TBT/BNS Staff

Nor­way has of­fered the Euro­pean Union (EU) a quota swap deal in or­der to en­able EU fish­er­men to ob­tain the nec­es­sary li­cense for catch­ing snow crab in Nor­way’s Arc­tic shelf, the Nor­we­gian Em­bassy in Riga an­nounced.

Nor­way be­lieves that the prob­lem will be re­solved with diplo­matic means and that talks be­tween the Nor­we­gian gov­ern­ment and the EU are on­go­ing to set­tle the dis­pute, the em­bassy’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives said.

Nor­way still main­tains that the Lat­vian trawler that was ar­rested in Nor­way in Jan­uary had been catch­ing crab il­le­gally as nei­ther the EU nor Latvia have the au­thor­ity to is­sue the nec­es­sary crab­bing li­censes with­out Nor­way’s con­sent, and since the Lat­vian ves­sel Sen­a­tor had not such li­cense its op­er­a­tions around the Sval­bard ar­chi­pel­ago can be con­sid­ered il­le­gal.

The em­bassy’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives in­di­cated that be­fore the Lat­vian trawler’s ar­rest its owner in­quired Nor­we­gian au­thor­i­ties about the le­gal­ity of such fish­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and was told that it would not be le­gal. In spite of this, the Sen­a­tor started catch­ing crab on Nor­way’s Arc­tic shelf un­til was de­tained. The ves­sel was de­tained for a sim­i­lar vi­o­la­tion al­ready on Septem­ber 16, 2016.

The Nor­we­gian em­bassy does not re­gard the so-called Sval­bard treaty rel­e­vant in the con­text of the given dis­pute as the fish­ing and hunt­ing rights pro­vided by the agree­ment only ap­ply to land ter­ri­to­ries and ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters within 12 nau­ti­cal miles of the Sval­bard coast.

As re­ported, the Lat­vian crab trawler Sen­a­tor was ar­rested on Jan­uary 16 this year for fish­ing snow crab in Nor­we­gian wa­ters around the Sval­bard (Spitzber­gen) ar­chi­pel­ago. The Nor­we­gians in­sist that the Lat­vian ves­sel had been fish­ing there il­le­gally while Latvia main­tains the fish­er­men had been act­ing in com­pli­ance with in­ter­na­tional agree­ments.

Af­ter the in­ci­dent, the Lat­vian For­eign Min­istry pre­sented a note to the Nor­we­gian Em­bassy in Riga, ask­ing to re­lease the Lat­vian crab trawler with a crew of 30 peo­ple held in Nor­way and not to in­ter­fere with crab fish­ing which has been tak­ing place in ac­cor­dance with in­ter­na­tional agree­ments.

Nor­we­gian Am­bas­sador to Latvia Steinar Egil Ha­gen ear­lier in­sisted that Nor­way had the au­thor­ity to is­sue li­censes for crab­bing on its con­ti­nen­tal shelf, and the EU and Latvia could not get such li­censes with­out Nor­way’s con­sent.

Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Ja­nis Duklavs (Greens/ Farm­ers) dur­ing the meet­ing with EU Com­mis­sioner for En­vi­ron­ment, Mar­itime Af­fairs and Fish­eries Kar­menu Vella in Brus­sels called on the EU to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion with­out any de­lay, the Lat­vian Agri­cul­ture Min­istry said.

Tak­ing Nor­way to court over the ves­sel’s ar­rest would be the last re­sort if all diplo­matic ef­forts failed, Duklavs said.

The Nor­we­gian au­thor­i­ties have im­posed a180,000 eu­ros fine on the Lat­vian owner of the crab trawler, but the ves­sel’s idling in Nor­way causes ad­di­tional 6,800 eu­ros loss each day.

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