The archipelago of Svalbard was ceded to Norway under the 1920 Spitsbergen Treaty in order to guarantee an equitable legal regime for the area, including the non-discrimination principle in access to the archipelago’s fishing resources.
In 1977 Norway unilaterally declared the Svalbard Fisheries Protection Zone (FPZ) and it claims that the non-discrimination provisions of the Spitsbergen Treaty do not apply in that zone. In 2010 Norway and Russia signed a maritime delimitation treaty in Murmansk concerning the Barents Sea. Some of the waters in the Svalbard FPZ are now east of the delimitation line (the Murmansk line).
Norway and Russia cooperate in the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission in the management of fish stocks of the Barents Sea. In recent years, this has led to the appropriation of fishing opportunities to the detriment of Member States.
It is important that the Commission take steps towards Norway, as in the absence of EU action Norway will resolve all of its issues as it alone sees fit.
1. Does the Commission believe that the Member States which are party to the 1920 Spitsbergen Treaty enjoy equal fishing rights in the Svalbard FPZ?
2. What is the Commission’s position regarding the legal status of the section of the Svalbard FPZ which lies east of the Murmansk line? Is this section deemed to be international waters beyond the Russian shelf or does it now form part of the Russian exclusive economic zone (EEZ)?
3. If EU fishermen have lost their right to fish in the Svalbard FPZ east of the Murmansk line, will the Commission consider claims for compensation?
4. What is the Commission’s position regarding the legality of the transfer by Norway to Russia of responsibility for part of the Norwegian EEZ in the Barents Sea (the special area)?
5. Does the Commission intend to participate in the 2014 meeting of the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission or others so as to counteract the misappropriation of Greenland halibut and redfish quotas in the Barents Sea?