Norway will tighten regulations around vessels with foreign owners in their fishing fleet
The Ministry of Trade and Industry in Norway has given instructions to the Directorate of Fisheries on how to assess breaches of regulations made with vessels under the flag of a third country.
This will happen when applying for approval of foreign companies as minority owners in Norwegian fishing companies, the ministry writes.
“We now ask the Directorate of Fisheries to maintain a strict practice in such cases. I make no secret of the fact that this instruction has been triggered by the fact that the Icelandic company Samherji has bought into another Norwegian fishing company. Samherji is already present in several of the European fishing nations and has fished in our areas under different flags, and such international ownership concentration offers some special control challenges,” says Minister of Fisheries and Seafood Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen.
“Our regulations on participation in fishing and ownership in the fishing fleet aim for active fishermen to own fishing vessels, and the fishing activity will benefit the coastal population. There are therefore good reasons to carefully consider the foreign owners who are nevertheless accepted into the Norwegian fishing fleet. I see no reason to be particularly accommodating to groups that establish themselves across national borders to collect as much quota as possible on their own hands,” says Minister Ingebrigtsen.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry will also soon send a regulation for consultation on changes to the Business Permit Regulations, so that an application for approval of a change of ownership must always be submitted, which means that a foreign company directly or indirectly becomes an owner of a Norwegian fishing company. This means that such changes will no longer be covered by the notification scheme.
The Icelandic company Samherji, through minority ownership in the shipping company Eskøy AS, is investing in the Norwegian coastal fishing fleet. Samherji is one of the largest fishing companies in Europe.
The requirement that active Norwegian fishermen own and have real control over the fishing fleet is legislated through the Participant Act. The law contains both nationality requirements and activity requirements.