By: Irene Dahl and Elise Johansen
The Latvian vessel Juras Vilkas, owned by the shipping company Arctic Fishing, was licensed by the Latvian Ministry of Agriculture to catch snow crab on the Norwegian side of the delimitation line in the high seas area (the Loop Hole) of the Barents Sea. The license was granted pursuant to a letter from the EU Commission of 22 December 2016, authorizing licenses for 16 vessels to fish snow crab in the Barents Sea under the terms of the Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in North-East Atlantic Fisheries (NEAFC Convention). In the period 16 May – 25 July 2016 the captain of Juras Vilkas caught 80,340 kilos of snow crab (worth NOK 2 500 000) on the Norwegian continental shelf in the Loop Hole. The captain was prosecuted for violation of the Norwegian prohibition on snow crab catching and fined NOK 18 000. The shipping company was subject to a confiscation order of NOK 2 500 000 (the catch value). In the Decision of the District Court of Øst-Finnmark on 24 January 2017, both the captain and the company were acquitted on the grounds that the NEAFC Convention prevails over the Norwegian prohibition against catching snow crab on the Norwegian continental shelf.
This blog post provides an introduction to the Norwegian snow crab regime and analyzes the Court’s decision.