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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Wednesday, 19.06.2024, 21:29

Snow crabbing case over Latvia ends up in international court of arbitration

BC, Riga, 21.07.2020.Print version
The legal dispute over Latvia's rights to fish for snow crabs has reached an international court of arbitration - the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington, writes LETA, according to information available on the center's website.

Peteris Pildegovics and his company North Start LTD, whose trawler was arrested by Norwegian authorities as it was crabbing around the Svalbard (Spitzbergen) archipelago, have filed a complaint with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

The applicant argues that by detaining the vessel, Norway has violated Latvia-Norway agreement on the promotion and protection of mutual investment. 

As reported, a Latvian crab trawler, the Senator, was arrested on January 16, 2017, for fishing snow crab in Norwegian waters around the Svalbard (Spitzbergen) archipelago. The Norwegians insist that the Latvian vessel had been fishing there illegally while Latvia maintains the fishermen had been acting in compliance with international agreements and an EU regulation about the fishing rights in Svalbard.

After the incident the Latvian Foreign Ministry presented a note to the Norwegian Embassy in Riga, asking to release the Latvian crab trawler and not to interfere with crab fishing which has been taking place in accordance with international agreements.

Norwegian Ambassador to Latvia Steinar Egil Hagen earlier insisted that Norway had the authority to issue licenses for crabbing on its continental shelf, and the EU and Latvia could not get such licenses without Norway's consent.

Last year, the Supreme Court of Norway ruled against Latvia in the legal dispute over crabbing rights in the Svalbard archipelago.

The Norwegian Supreme Court ruled snow crabs to be a sedentary species, meaning it can be considered a resource of the continental shelf, just like oil and gas. Any other interpretation would also raise questions concerning these natural resources. Had the Norwegian court ruled that snow crabs are a migratory species the arrested Senator would be free to resume crabbing.

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