Coast Guard not afraid of Northern Fleet


Despite the presence of Northern Fleet vessels, the Norwegian Coast Guard continues to detain Russian trawlers suspected in illegal fishing in the waters around Spitsbergen. Meanwhile, Russian fishermen call for their Navy’s intervention.


Only in the course of the last week, the Norwegian coast guard vessel “KV Svalbard” has detained two trawlers, one of them for the catch of under-size fish and the other for irregular catch registration. The detentions have taken place amid the presence in the area of Russian Northern Fleet vessels. Russian Navy commander Vladimir Vysotskii in July this year announced that two Northern Fleet vessels, the “Severomorsk” and the “Marshal Ustinov” would be sent to Arctic waters, including the Spitsbergen zone, for the protection of national interests. The announcement came after demands from the federal Fishery Agency (Rosrybolovstvo). None of the Navy vessels have however intervened in the Norwegian detention of Russian trawlers. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Deputy Navy Commander Igor Dygalo confirms that military action in a situation with trawlers can only be made after the approval of the Foreign Ministry. The Russian Foreign Ministry, however, has kept silent in the recent situations, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Norway in 1977 established a 200 mile fishery protection zone around the far northern archipelago, and now claims sovereignty over the waters. Russia, meanwhile, is strongly against the Norwegian claim, and disputes Norway’s right to control Russian trawlers operating in the area.