Norway’s supreme court rules – snow crabs are Norwegian

Norway’s supreme court rules – snow crabs are Norwegian

Latvian fishing company SIA North Star Ltd has lost its appeal at the Norwegian supreme court, in a move that could end the long-running dispute over a Latvian-flagged crabber which has been at the centre of a tussle overfishing rights in the Norwegian-administered Svalbard zone.

Crabbing vessel Senator shot 2600 traps in Svalbard waters two years ago and refused to comply with instructions from the Norwegian Coast Guard to retrieve the gear, on the grounds that Senator is one of sixteen crabbers issued with EU licences to fish there – which Norway has maintained are not valid.

SIA North Star lost its case in the Eastern Finnmark District Court and the owners and the vessel’s Russian skipper were ordered to pay a total of NoK1.30 million in fines and legal costs.

Now the court of appeal has upheld the original sentence, with eleven judges unanimously concluding that SIA North Star’s appeal should be rejected, effectively confirming that in Norway’s view, Senator was fishing illegally when it shot away its fishing gear in Svalbard waters two years ago, and confirming Norway’s right to sanction vessels fishing for snow crab in the Svalbard zone.

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