Russia’s Fishery Agency threatens to strike Norwegian fish export

Russian trawler.

- Russia is not going to stand idly and watch the Norwegian coast guard arresting our trawlers in the waters around Svalbard, says Andrey Krainy, head of the Federal Fishery Agency.


The unusually strong statement comes in an interview with Kosomolskaya Pravda after last week’s meeting in the joint Norwegian-Russian fishery commission where the arrest of the trawler “Sapphire II” became a hot topic.

The Norwegian coast guard arrested the Russian trawler on September 28 for illegally dumping fish over board. “Sapphire II” was towed to Tromsø and given a fine of NOK 450.000 (€57.000).

Head of the information department in the Russian Federal Fishery Agency, Aleksandr Saveliev, elaborates Krainy’s statement and says: - The Russian side has ample of opportunities to restore justice. Then he point to the fact that Russia is one of the largest markets for Norwegian fish.

In other words, writes Komsomolskaya Pravda, the Norwegian coast guard’s behaviour against Russian trawlers around Svalbard can trigger economic sanctions against Norwegian fish export.

Russia imported seafood worth €625 million from Norway in 2010. Especially salmon, herring and capelin from Norway are very popular on Russian dinner tables.

If sanctions against Norwegian seafood products are carried into effect, it will not the first time Russia uses import of foreign food-products as a tool in a political conflict with neighbouring countries. In 2006, Russia banned import of Georgian wine and Borjomi mineral water, although Moscow denied any links to the political conflict with Tbilisi. 

Andrey Krainy says they were assured that last year’s maritime delimitation treaty for the Barents Sea and Arctic Oceans would not lead to worsen conditions for Russian fishermen. – However, we see an increase in the number of arrests of Russian trawlers in the so-called fishery protection zone around Svalbard, which Norway has introduced unilateral without being recognized by Russia, Krainy says.

Read also“Norway’s action is inadmissible and provocative”

On Friday, Rossiskya Gazeta reported that the Russian coast guard vessel “Murmansk” sailed towards the fishery protection zone. The presence of “Murmansk” in the area had been planned for a while and is according to FSB not related to the detention of “Sapphire II” and the current fishery control dispute between Norway and Russia.