“We find it worrying that Russia once again choses to conduct a military exercise in the Norwegian economic zone on short notice and without regards taken for ongoing fishing activities”, says Sturla Roald of Fiskebåt.
Russia has this week conducted a military exercise in the Norwegian economic zone of the northeastern Barents Sea. The organization Fiskebåt, the ocean-going fishing fleet’s organization, reacts strongly.
“We find it worrying that Russia once again choses to conduct a military exercise in the Norwegian economic zone on short notice and without regards taken for ongoing fishing activities”, says Sturla Roald, Head of Division at Fiskebåt, in a press release.
The exercise covers a large area in which there are currently ongoing fisheries for beaked redfish, Fiskebåt informs. There are currently seven Norwegian vessels in the area, most of whom were to leave the area.
Will follow up
“Russia does not have legal reasons for closing off the area and they are responsible for conducting the exercise in such a way that security is maintained. Each vessel will nevertheless have to decide for itself whether or not it will comply with the demand that they leave the area, or not”, Roald says in the press release.
“Given how Russia acts in other areas there may be reason to worry about the security for vessels opting to remain in the area”, he adds.
Fiskebåt will follow the matter up with Norwegian authorities. “That has also been done previously, however, without tangible results”, the organization writes.
According to the navigation warning, the exercise took place from 14 May at 21:00 hrs to 18 May at 21:00 hrs.
No major exercise
Spokesperson Preben Aursand at the Norwegian Joint Headquarters confirms to High North News that there was an ongoing Russian military exercise in the northeastern Barents Sea, however, that the NJHQ does not consider it a major exercise.
“Russia has the right to exercise in international waters, however, it does not have any legal reasons to shut de area. They have issued a navigation warning in which they explain where they will train and exercise, and are also in charge of security in this area. They must make sure the exercise is conducted in a responsible fashion”, Aursand points out.
In a High North News interview, Researcher and Professor Øystein Jensen at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute has previously explained that Russia is allowed to conduct maritime military exercises in the Norwegian economic zone. However, if the exercise conflicts with and does not take sufficient regard to Norwegian fisheries to a too high extent, it may be illegal under the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This article is available here. (Norwegian only)
This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.