Latvia to take European Commission to court over crab ship case

Latvia will take the European Commission to the international courts over the impounding by Norway of a crab fishing ship more than a year ago, Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis said April 24.

Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting, the premier said he had received a memorandum from the Ministry of Justice suggesting steps to resolve the impasse which has arisen since a fishing vessel called Senator was impounded by Norway's coastguards in January 2017, after they found it to be carrying out illegal catches of snow crabs.

The owners of the vessel maintain they were fishing legally and within the bounds of European Union agreements with Norway.

However, Latvia's complaint is with the European Commission rather than Norway as the government believes the Commission has not protected the interests of a member state in resolving the case.

The claim is expected to be laid before the European Courts of Justice in a month's time.

As previously reported by LSM, in January 2017 a Latvian snow-crab ship was arrested in Norwegian waters off the Arctic island of Svalbard. Latvia claims that Norway illegally restricted fishing opportunities for European Union (EU) member states and violated international treaties. The owners of the vessel say they have incurred millions of euros of losses as a result of the action.

Norway insists it acted quite properly and that only it can issue fishing licenses for grounds in its continental shelf. While the case may appear relatively inconsequential at first sight, it could become a test case for future fishing rights in the Arctic regions. 

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