Norway tightens rules over Russian fishing vessels in its ports

Three Norwegian ports - Tromsø, Båtsfjord, and Kirkenes - allow Russian fishing boats to dock under the bilateral fisheries agreement between the two countries, but access will now be further restricted.
Norwegian fishing vessel returning from Barents Sea.

Norwegian fishing vessel returning from Barents Sea.

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The Norwegian government has announced it is further tightening restrictions on Russian fishing vessels, introducing new limitations on docking durations and locations in three ports.

The ports of Tromsø, Båtsfjord, and Kirkenes are the only remaining Norwegian ports which are partially open to Russian fishing vessels. Now Russian boats docking at the ports will be further restricted, with enhanced control activities by the police, particularly in Båtsfjord, part of the new measures.

"It is a fundamental Norwegian interest to look after the fish stocks in the Barents Sea. It is important for employment and settlement in the north, and especially in Finnmark," said Fisheries and Oceans Minister Marianne Sivertsen Næss, in a Norwegian government announcement on Friday 5 July.

"At the same time, we must ensure that no unwanted activity takes place in the three ports that are partially exempt from the extensive port ban we have along the coast. Now we will introduce new restrictions that take into account both sustainable management and better control in the ports," she added.

Better control of what happens in Norwegian ports, say Ministers

The updated regulations limit Russian fishing vessels' docking time to a maximum of five working days, or up to seven days including weekends and holidays. A minimum of three days must pass between stays in Norwegian ports. Until now, Russian fishing vessels had no restrictions on the length of time they were permitting to stay at berth in the three ports.

Additionally, Russian vessels will now be restricted to specific terminals or quays listed in the "Guidelines for ports and quay facilities that can receive Russian fishing vessels," as part of the Ukraine sanctions regulations.

"We have closed all ports to Russian vessels, with the exception of three ports which are partially open to Russian fishing vessels. Control activity is already high, but the police and customs are now strengthening their control, and we are placing stricter requirements on Russian fishing vessels when staying in port," added Minister of Justice and Emergency Preparedness Emilie Enger Mehl.

Authorities say the new restrictions will be implemented "as soon as possible".

The move reflects Norway's solidarity with allies in response to Russia's aggression against Ukraine, the Norwegian Government said, noting that it will continue to assess the need for further actions as the situation evolves.

Norwegian-Russian Fisheries cooperation

Norway's sanctions against Russia, in line with EU measures, include a comprehensive port ban, with limited exemptions for Russian fishing vessels to unload fish, change crew, and secure provisions in Tromsø, Båtsfjord, and Kirkenes.

This cooperation aims to safeguard the sustainable management of Barents Sea fish stocks, crucial for both nations due to the breeding grounds in Russian waters that support cod and other species' renewal and growth.

The two countries arrived at an agreement over fishing rights in the Barents Sea for 2024 in a digital conference last October. At the time, Russia opposed Norway's port restrictions on Russian fishing vessels, calling them "illegitimate", and saying it reserved the right to suspend the agreement if further "unilateral restrictions" were applied.

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