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COMMON CHALLENGES AND LEGAL CERTAINTIES Печать E-mail

Oyvind Nordsletten
Ambassador of Norway to the Russian Federation

The North-Atlantic is home to some of the most valuable fish stocks in the world. Thanks to solid scientific research and sound management, these stocks are still sustainable. We have common challenges in this respect in the High North.

Last November the Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission celebrated its 35th anniversary. Our scientific cooperation has an even longer history.

Cooperation on scientific research and management of these stocks is very important, and has so far been successful. That is why Norway has been keen to demonstrate the utmost openness in granting permissions to carry out various kinds of marine scientific research. This is also why we do not understand the restrictions and sometimes even refusals to grant similar permissions in Russian waters, even in cases where there has been agreement of the need for the research missions concerned.

The Norwegian-Russian cooperation fits into a broader international framework. ICES and NEAFC are prime examples of international cooperation in the fields of research and management of fisheries resources, a cooperation that is fundamental for the further sustain-ability of the stocks.

The most serious threats to the fisheries resources in the North-Atlantic today are illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. IUU-fishing could lead to stocks being severely depleted. Estimates indicate that 100 000 tonnes of cod at a first hand value of approximately EUR 200 million are illegally caught in the Barents Sea each year. That is in fact an amount corresponding to one fourth of the total allowable catch of the stock.

In order to stop illegal fishing and illegal transshipment at sea, the key is Port state control and the exercise of flag state's and coastal state's responsibilities. We are very satisfied with the decision taken by the Northeast Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) last November adopting binding rules concerning port State control, that shall enter into force on 1 May this year.

We are, together with others, such as the EU, working actively in FAO to promote the negotiations of a legally binding regime on Port State Control.

Together with our good neighbour Russia, we have launched an initiative for port-state control and inspections in major European Capitals. We have also concluded bilateral control agreements with a large number of States and with the European Commission. We regret that Spain has not been ready to conclude such an agreement.

In addition to these intensified efforts at the international level, Norway will strive even harder to ensure that Norwegian law is adjusted so that IUU-fishing is combated even more effectively in areas where we exercise jurisdiction. One of the elements here is to make sure that foreign vessels which are taking part or have taken part in IUU activities are denied access to Norwegian ports and any service or support in Norwegian waters.

The 1920 Treaty concerning Spitsbergen recognizes full Norwegian sovereignty over the archipelago and requires Norway to ensure certain rights for other states parties' nationals.

Certain differences of view with regard to the geographic scope of application of some of the clauses of the 1920 Treaty, concerning equal treatment and taxation, are well known.

The consistent position taken by this and previous Norwegian governments is that the wording of the treaty is clear: The references to territorial waters actually mean what they say. The clear terms proposed by Norway and adopted in 1920 cannot easily be discarded.

Norway, as the coastal state has an undisputable right to establish an economic zone around Svalbard. Norway chose in 1977, until further notice, to establish a fisheries protection zone. It is Norway's duty as a coastal state to regulate and enforce the fisheries in this zone. It is also in the interest of all that the fisheries in the Spitsbergen area, as well as in the rest of the North-Atlantic is conducted in a regulated and sustainable matter. The alternative would be the depletion of our fish stocks.

We are blessed with rich, but vulnerable fish stocks in Europe's High North. How we manage these resources, is indeed a test on our commitment to the marine environment, our commitment to our honest fishermen and our commitment to future generations. Because those who commit illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries are committing a crime against our communities that makes honest fishermen suffer and puts common resources at risk.

Wherever there is a limited resource, there is always a potential for conflicting interests. Fish stocks are no exception. But when it comes to fisheries, we are privileged because of the global legal framework provided by the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention and related instruments including regional and bilateral agreements. Let us implement them fully and we will be rewarded through robust fish stocks that will ensure the livelihood of today's and tomorrow's fishermen.

Good management is not a vague concept. It is not magic. It is simply clear rules based on our best scientific knowledge and a robust enforcement regime to make sure everybody plays by the rules. Illegal fisheries must be brought to an end, wherever they take place. It is as simple as that. Norway will continue to honour our obligations in this respect, and we expect others to do the same.

FISHERY IN NORTH ATLANTIC: REALITY AND PROSPECTS 


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