The ‘Tove Kajgaard’ one of the trawlers that was were nabbed via social media for illegal halibut fishing in Norwegian waters. Photo: NRK
Two Danish fishing vessels, the ‘Carpe Diem’ and ‘Tove Kajgaard’ have received fines and confiscation of catches in the hundreds of thousands of Norwegian kroner for illegal halibut fishing in Norwegian waters.
The two trawlers were fined NOK 25,000 (€2,400/£2,000) for having 1,500 kilos of halibut onboard and had NOK 189,000 (€17,800/£17,500) worth of fish seized by Norwegian authorities.
The reports stated that Danish trawlers were catching halibut in January, even though halibut with restrictions south of 62° north, on the Norwegian side, is protected from 20 December to 31 March each year.
On 18 January 2022, Tove Kajgaard’s colleagues on board Carpe-Diem posted Facebook pictures, where the fishermen talked about the good halibut fishing “this week” along with posting photos of themselves beside some fine specimens of halibut.
Position data from the Norwegian Coastal Administration showed that the fishermen were in the Norwegian economic zone in the days before the pictures were published.
For the rest of the same week, they moved exclusively between the Swedish and Norwegian zones. In both places, halibut is protected in winter, but Danish trawlers can fish for halibut without being penalised on the Swedish side.
After the Coast Guard was tipped off about possible illegal fishing, the Norwegian authorities boarded a total of five Danish trawlers at sea in the Skagerak. It gave tangible results.
At the case in the High Court, the fishermen themselves must have stated that they were not aware of the ban.
Lars Kajgaard, who is the owner of the fishing company ‘Tove Kajgaard’ and Erik Vinther Poulsen, director of the company that owns the trawler ‘Carpe Diem’ wrote in an email to NRK that they have fished in good faith. They said:
“For 12 years we and several Danish fishing boats have been fishing for halibut in Norway, which we did not know was protected from 20 December to 31 March. As they are only protected in Norwegian waters, and not in Danish and EU waters.”
They claim that they have always followed the rules and reported to the Norwegian authorities:
“They have always known what we have caught every day. Over 12 years, we have been visited several times by the Norwegian fisheries authorities. They have never pointed out or mentioned that we have been fishing illegally.”
“It is therefore very unexpected that we are being exposed in the Norwegian and Danish media for illegal halibut fishing in Norwegian waters by anglers and green organisations.
“We are harassed, and they post the monitoring of our fisheries on social media.”
Kajgaard and Poulsen further write that the Danish Fisheries Association are familiar with their halibut fishing in Norway:
“We accept the fine and that we have done something illegal under applicable Norwegian legislation. We would like to emphasise that we have fished in good faith.”