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Oceans and fisheries

Fisheries in Svalbard

Svalbard and its waters are governed by the 1920 Treaty of Paris on Spitzbergen (Svalbard). Currently Norway, 22 EU Member States, and 23 other states are Parties to the Treaty.

Treaty of Paris

The objective of the Treaty of Paris, signed after World War I, was to resolve the “no man’s land” status of the archipelago of Svalbard and to ensure that all nations could share this area in peace and prosperity. The Treaty recognised the sovereignty of Norway over Svalbard, but qualified it with a number of obligations that Norway has to comply with. These obligations give rise to correlative rights for the nationals of other states that are Parties to the Treaty.

For fisheries, the most important obligations are present in the principle of equal access and the principle of equal treatment. Under the principle of equal access, vessels and nationals of all Parties enjoy equally the rights of fishing and hunting in the territory of the Svalbard Archipelago and its waters.

Under the principle of equal treatment, Norway is allowed to take conservation measures for the preservation of flora and fauna of Svalbard and its waters, under the condition that the measures must “always be applicable equally to the nationals of all the High Contracting Parties to the Treaty without any exemption, privilege or favour whatsoever, direct or indirect to the advantage of any of them”.

European Union and Svalbard

The European Union considers that these qualifications apply to all maritime zones of Svalbard, including the Svalbard Fisheries Protection Zone.

In line with the Treaty of Paris, the EU’s acceptance of Norwegian fishery regulations concerning conservation measures in the maritime zones of Svalbard is conditional on those regulations being applied in a non-discriminatory manner, based on scientific advice and being respected by all interested Parties.


14 JULY 2021
Note verbale, 28 June 2021
14 JULY 2021
Note verbale, 26 February 2021

Treaty of Paris on Spitzbergen (Svalbard)