Russia VS Norway... Round two


Milforum's Bouncer
Moscow slammed Norway on Wednesday for what it described as “excessive” actions against two Russian vessels near the Svalbard Islands, the Itar-Tass news agency reports.

“We are conducting a probe together with the Russian departments and organizations concerned,” the agency quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin as saying.

“It should be noted that even if Norway had grounds to assume certain deviations by the vessels from the existing fishing regulations in the district, the actions by Norwegian authorities look excessive, and the announced fines do not correspond to the circumstances of the situation,” the spokesman underlined.

Norway fined the Russian vessels Kapitan Gorbachyov and Dmitry Pokramovich $330,000, Spitsbergen governor Rune Bor Hansen said.

Russian Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev believes that Norway overstepped its jurisdiction when it detained Russian fishing boats.

“I believe that the Norwegian side has overstepped its jurisdiction. Based on international practice, I believe we should say this loud and clear,” the minister was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying at a news conference in Moscow.

At the same time, Gordeyev stressed that Russia was ready to work with the Norwegian side in cracking down on poachers and unscrupulous fishing companies.

Earlier, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official said that the Norwegian authorities had gone too far in their handling of the Russian fishing vessels arrested near the Spitsbergen archipelago this week.

The Norwegian Coast Guard detained the fishing boat Kapitan Gorbachev and the transport vessel Dmitry Pokramovich near the island of Medvezhy in the Barents Sea after the boats entered a 12-mile exclusive fishing zone without permission on Oct. 24. The Norwegian authorities accused the ships’ crews of unauthorized fish reloading in Norway’s territorial waters. The ships were freed after Russia got them out of $150,000 pawn. On Saturday they went fishing again, local media reported. The latest arrests came in the wake of last week’s drama involving the Elektron trawler, which the Norwegians pursued across the Barents Sea for five days after accusing the Russian crew of violating Norwegian fishing regulations.

Also on Friday Russian-Norwegian commission agreed measures against illegal fishing in the Barents Sea, Itar-Tass reported. The sides agreed that Russian inspectors will be present on board Norwegian coast guard ships to monitor the operation of Russian ships and the other way round. It was also decided to create joint mobile groups of inspectors for probing into the legality of fish catches in the ports of various countries where sea products are unloaded.

From now on the Russian-Norwegian commission for fishing will have a new subcommittee of representatives from either country’s law enforcement agencies.

The general secretary of Norway’s Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, Jorn Krog has told the press over the conference these measures are necessary, because illegal catches of fish in the Barents Sea, according to Norway’s estimates may range 60,000 tonnes to 115,000 tonnes a year approximately $160,000 worth.

“Our Russian counterparts do not quite agree with the calculation methodology, but we are unanimous that the problem does exist and must be addressed,” Krog concluded.

Ding Ding end of Round One...

The Russian Federal Agency for Veterinary and Phitosanitary Inspection announced on Thursday, Dec. 1, that it is introducing temporary restrictions starting Monday, Dec. 5, on fish imports from four Norwegian fishing enterprises. The Russian Agriculture Ministry cited excessive pollution of the fish as the reason for the ban. “The monitoring of salmon...bred by the Norwegian companies ST-400, H-107, N-1041 and H-96 revealed lead and cadmium concentrations twice exceeding permissible levels,” the ministry said, quoted by RIA Novosti.

According to hygiene requirements towards safety and nutritional value of food products, discovered concentrations of lead and cadmium are not permissible. The restrictions will be lifted after Russia and Norway hold joint inspections, the ministry said.

Meanwhile the head of the Russian Veterinary and Phitosanitary Inspection Sergei Dankvert told Interfax agency that “it’s possible that the results of additional examinations will force us to ban all of fish products coming from Norway”.

MosNews has reported recently of the fishing conflict between Russia and Norway. In mid-October Russia’s Elektron trawler was pursued by the Norwegians across the Barents Sea for five days after the Russian crew was accused of violating Norwegian fishing regulations. In the wake of this incident Norwegian Coast Guard detained two Russian fishing boats on Oct. 24, and released them on Oct. 28 after the boats were bailed out. The Norwegian Coast Guard had detained the trawlers near Medvezhy Island in the Barents Sea after the boats entered a 12-mile exclusive fishing zone without permission.

And there's the opening volley to start round two. Ok my Norwegian friends does Russia have a leg to stand on with this ban claiming "excess pollution" or is this as it seems a completely political tit for tat game?
The marked share for Norwegian salmon is 95% in Russia - so this will have an impact on the export, no doubt! Neither the Norwegian Foreign Department nor the Norwegian Fishing Department have been informed by the Russians on this ban; The news from Itar-Tass are as usual questioned regarding politicial and economical news from Russia on the Norway-Russia relationship.

This will pass by as "Russian business as usual" until things get confirmed.

When it comes to the Barents Sea the political situation and two or three decade drama is closer to an end than ever before; many issues have been settled the past months and there are a few minor details left to sort out. What is of concern is the waters around Spitsbergen where we granted historical rights to the Spanish, Russians and a few other countries for fishing; but the wildlife protection zones are not respected - as seen with the Spanish trawlers recently. Remember these waters have large quantities of fish and we must take care of the resources generations ahead.

When all nations can learn not to overfish and respect their quotas these problems will be seen more seldomly.