illegal Arctic fishing Norway

Norway mounts crackdown on illegal Arctic fishing – Norway’s coast guard wants to boost the number of patrol vessels it has in the Barents Sea next year, part of a new crackdown on illegal fishing in the Arctic.

The Spanish trawler Garoya Segundo tied up at Longyearbyen Sunday evening after it was caught dumping turbot by the Norwegian Coast Guard.

PHOTO: BIRGER AMUNDSEN / SCANPIX

The Norwegians have arrested six foreign trawlers in the past month alone, the latest being two Spanish trawlers that started dumping tons of turbot after they were approached by a Norwegian patrol vessel and helicopter over the weekend.

It was the latest high seas drama involving disputed fishing rights in the Arctic. A Russian trawler made headlines for weeks earlier this autumn after it also was ordered to halt, and then took off with two Norwegian inspectors on board.

The Norwegians are calling the Spanish vessels “genuine pirate trawlers,” and filmed the dumping of an estimated one to five tons of turbot. One of the vessels, the Garoya Segundo, was said to have a research quota of the protected fish turbot on board, but that approval for the quota had expired in early November. The Norwegians claim the vessel then illegally caught another 100 tons of turbot in addition to the quota amount.

Spanish authorities nonetheless are protesting the arrest of the two vessels, claiming they were fishing in international waters around Svalbard where Norway has no jurisdiction. A Spanish newspaper, La Voz de Galicia, said the Spanish authorities were considering an appeal to the International Court in The Hague to settle whether Norway in fact has jurisdiction in the area.

Coast guard authorities say they’re now working “systematically” to track down vessels suspected of either fishing illegally themselves or taking on board illegal catches from other trawlers. Steve Olsen of the Coast Guard told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Monday morning that patrols will be boosted next near.

Aftenposten English Web Desk
Nina Berglund

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