A Russian trawler was this week detained by Norwegian Coastguards inside the Svalbard zone and fines of NoK230,000 have been imposed for discarding fish.
According to TASS, the Murmansk-based Melkart’s skipper and owners accepted the fine and the trawler resumed fishing once police in Tromsø had received a payment guarantee from the vessel’s agent.
Melkart was observed by Coast Guard vessel Bergen, discarding fish through its waste chute
‘Murman Seafood was fined NoK200,000 and the trawler’s skipper NoK30,000 for illegal fish discards and failure to notify the Norwegian authorities of fishing in the fish protected zone near Svalbard (Spitzbergen) and of catch volumes. In this case, the fish catches were not confiscated but, proceeding from their estimated value, the sum of the penalty for the ship-owner was determined,’ a spokeswoman for the Norwegian prosecutor’s office told TASS.
It is not clear so far whether the company will try to dispute the penalty. In similar cases, Norwegian courts have in the past ruled in favour of Russian operators.
Norway and Russia are the only nations maintaining an economic presence in the Svalbard archipelago, where the territory was placed under Norway’s protective administration almost a hundred years ago. In 1977 Norway unilaterally extended its protection zone around Svalbard to 200 miles, which Russia believes is in contravention of the provisions of the original 1920 Spitsbergen Treaty.
Melkart was detained inside this area, where strict Norwegian regulation on discarding is enforced, while the Russian view is that this is international waters. The Moscow standpoint is that it is not allowable to detain Russian vessels in this area, and that measures against vessels contravening regulations should be taken by the Russian authorities at Norway’s instigation.