EU-Norway dispute over snow crab fishing in Svalbard
Question for oral answer O-000076/2018
to the Commission
Alain Cadec, on behalf of the Committee on Fisheries
The 1920 Paris Treaty, to which 23 EU Member States are parties, grants equal and non-discriminatory access to resources for all parties with respect to fishing for all commercially exploited species, including snow crab, in the waters surrounding Svalbard. Furthermore, all Member States, as well as Norway, are contracting parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which obliges them to cooperate in the management of the exploitation of marine living resources.
In order to ensure that snow crab fishing within the area of Svalbard is being conducted in a manner consistent with the non-discriminatory management rules which may be set out by Norway within the limits of the Paris Treaty, the Council has fixed the number of licenses and vessels that are authorised to carry out such fishing. As a result, Member States are authorised to issue the national licences for snow crab fishing in Svalbard.
However, Norway does not recognise the EU licences for snow crab fishing, and EU trawlers fishing for snow crab under valid EU-licenses in Svalbard have been prevented from operating by the Norwegian authorities. Therefore, vessel owners who have invested heavily in snow crab fishing based on the EU’s legislation are now unable to fish, and the Commission’s negotiating efforts over the past two years have not yielded any results for the affected EU fishing fleet, which now faces bankruptcy and the loss of hundreds of jobs.
We consider that the Commission’s political and diplomatic efforts in tackling the issue with the Norwegian authorities have not been resolute enough.
1. How does the Commission intend to safeguard the legitimate rights of the EU Member States which are signatories to the Paris Treaty?
2. What further steps is the Commission going to take to obtain a fair solution as soon as possible, allowing EU vessels holding valid EU licences to fish for snow crab in Svalbard?