Norway’s Supreme Courtroom hears Arctic snow crab case affecting oil, minerals

OSLO — Norway’s Supreme Courtroom on Tuesday started listening to arguments on whether or not EU ships can fish for snow crab off the Arctic islands north of Norway, in a case that might resolve who has the suitable to probe for oil and minerals within the area.

At stake is whether or not EU vessels have the suitable to catch snow crab, whose meat is taken into account a delicacy by gourmets in Japan and South Korea, in the identical method than Norwegian vessels do.

A Latvian fisheries firm utilized to the non-EU nation in 2019 for a fishing license to catch the species, however was turned down on the premise that solely Norwegian vessels can.

The Latvian agency argued on Tuesday that it additionally has that proper beneath the 1920 Svalbard Treaty, which grants Norway sovereignty over the Arctic islands with the situation that different signatories have entry to their territorial waters.

The case has far-reaching implications, in keeping with Oeystein Jensen, a professor on the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Oslo.

“If the Supreme Courtroom thinks the Svalbard treaty applies, it’s not solely about snow crab, it is going to be about oil, fuel, minerals and fish,” he instructed Reuters. “It’s the whole lot or nothing.”

In an indication of the significance the case has for Norway, 16 Supreme Courtroom judges have been current on Tuesday to listen to arguments through the four-day session. Most different instances are determined by a panel of simply 5.

“The important thing query right here is the Svalbard Treaty and the encompassing areas,” Hallvard Oestgaard, representing the Latvian fishing agency, instructed the courtroom in his opening assertion.

“If the treaty applies, then the denying of the fishing license is invalid.”

In 2019 the Supreme Courtroom dominated unanimously that EU fishermen should ask permission from Oslo to catch snow crab, after the identical Latvian fisheries firm had tried to fish off Svalbard with solely an EU license.