Court allows Norway to punish EU fishermen who catch snow crabs at Svalbard

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-15 07:29:59|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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OSLO, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Supreme Court of Norway decided that the Nordic country can punish fishermen from the European Union (EU) who catch snow crabs from Norway's Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, public broadcaster NRK reported Thursday.

Therefore, Latvian shipping company SIA North Star Ltd. got its appeal rejected and had to pay 1.3 million kroner (150,000 U.S. dollars) after its boat "Senator" had put out 2,600 crab traps at Svalbard in January 2017.

The boat refused to follow the order from Norwegian Coast Guard to pick up the traps, as it had permission from the EU to fish in the area, which Norway regarded as invalid.

According to the Supreme Court, foreigners are not discriminated in this case, as the fishermen would have been punished even if they were Norwegian, because they did not have a valid permit to fish snow crabs in the area.

The EU believes vessels from its members have the right to catch as many snow crabs around the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard as Norwegian vessels.

Norway, on the other hand, does not allow fishermen from the EU to catch snow crabs in the fishing zone outside Svalbard without a quota exchange agreement.

According to the Svalbard Treaty of 1920, the archipelago is under Norwegian sovereignty, but the signatory countries have equal rights to exploit its natural resources on the land and its territorial waters.

Some commentators believe that the Supreme Court's ruling may also let Norway have more control of oil, gas and minerals on the seabed around Svalbard from other nations.