Norway tightens restrictions on Russian fishing vessels

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The Government has decided that Russian fishing vessels will only be permitted access to three Norwegian ports, and that all Russian vessels arriving at these ports will be subject to inspection.

Russian fishing vessels that are exempt from the ban on port access will now only be allowed access to the ports of Tromsø, Kirkenes and Båtsfjord.

‘The Government has further heightened preparedness in response to recent adverse developments, including Russia’s unacceptable annexation of Ukrainian territory, the attacks on the Baltic Sea gas pipelines and increased drone activity. We have been closely monitoring Russian activities in Norwegian waters and ports to ensure that Norway is not used as a transit country for the illegal transport of goods to Russia. We now have information that indicates there is a need to increase restrictions relating to Russian fishing vessels,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.

Norway manages a number of fish stocks together with Russia, and it is particularly important to ensure sustainable management of the world’s largest cod stock. For this reason, certain exemptions to the ban on port access have been granted for Russian fishing vessels. Now, however, the Government is tightening the legislation to allow Russian vessels access to only the ports of Tromsø, Kirkenes and Båtsfjord. There the vessels will be inspected by customs officers.

‘The Ministry of Finance has asked Norwegian Customs to intensify its monitoring activities relating to Russian fishing vessels that are exempt from the ban on port access, and to conduct physical inspections of all Russian fishing vessels calling at the three ports in question. This represents a clear strengthening of control measures,’ said Minister of Finance Trygve Slagsvold Vedum. Customs officers will cooperate closely with the police and other public authorities.

‘I have asked the police to work closely with Norwegian Customs. The police will have a more visible presence and there will be more patrols in the three ports concerned,’ said Minister of Justice and Public Security Emilie Enger Mehl.

‘As more European countries close their borders with Russia, Norway becomes more vulnerable, and the risk of illegal activity through our country increases. We are monitoring the situation closely and are prepared to implement further measures if necessary,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Huitfeldt.

Tromsø, Båtsfjord and Kirkenes are the Norwegian ports with the highest number of calls by Russian fishing vessels.

‘Norway has cooperated with Russia on fisheries management for nearly 50 years, including during the Cold War. We have an important responsibility to ensure sound management of the Barents Sea fish stocks that we share with Russia. Well-functioning fisheries cooperation with Russia is essential to achieve this. Therefore, the exemption for Russian fishing vessels still applies, but its scope is now being narrowed,’ said Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy Bjørnar Skjæran.

The amendments will enter into force very soon.