64 Nordic J. Int'l L. 557 (1995)
Cod War on the High Seas - Norwegian-Icelandic Dispute over Loophole Fishing in the Barents Sea

handle is hein.journals/nordic64 and id is 569 raw text is: Nordic Journal of International Law 64: 557-573, 1995.         557
@ 1995 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Cod War on the High Seas
Norwegian-Icelandic dispute over Loophole fishing in the
Barents Sea
THORIR GUDMUNDSSON
Boston University, Brussels
In July 1993, after several years of steadily decreasing cod catches in the
200 mile economic zone around Iceland, several Icelandic fishing boat owners
sent their trawlers to a small area in the Barents Sea, commonly called the
Loophole. It is a 62,400 square kilometre triangular patch of icy arctic waters
north of Norway, west of the Russian island of Novaya Zemlya and east of the
Norwegian-administered Svalbard archipelago. This fertile fishing ground is
called the Loophole because it is just outside the economic zones of both
Norway and Russia. It is, indeed, formed by the outer limits of the economic
zones around Northern-Norway, Novaya Zemlya and Svalbard.
Norway reacted angrily to the arrival of Icelandic trawlers, some of whom
were registered in third countries, sailing under flags of convenience. Nor-
wegian government spokesmen demanded that they leave. Authorities in
Reykjavik responded by saying they had no power to stop Icelandic boats
from fishing anywhere they wanted outside of Icelandic jurisdiction.
On August 14, the Norwegian Fisheries Ministry reported that 14 Icelandic
trawlers were fishing in the Loophole and that 11 trawlers were on their
way.'
Icelandic and Norwegian authorities were caught by surprise. Comments
by international legal experts Robin Churchill and Geir Ulfstein in a 1992
book on the Barents Sea reveal the common attitude toward the Loophole,
before Icelandic trawlers began heading there:
The remaining pocket of high seas in the Barents Sea ... is not important
from a fisheries point of view because a viable economic fishery in this
area is not feasible without access to the adjoining 200-mile zone.2
1Reuters News Agency dispatch from Oslo, August 19, 1993.
2 Robin Churchill and Geir Ulfstein, Marine Management in Disputed Areas: The Case of
the Barents Sea, 1992, p. 95.

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