Fishing boat owners are now hoping for a law change after the Supreme Court ruled against their effort to retain unlimited fishing quotas they’d been granted after joining forces and merging quotas for up to three vessels. The boat owners had sued the state when the former left-center government instead limited their quotas to 20-25 years.
They had won in the lower courts, on the grounds that the former government couldn’t strip them of the unlimited quotas allowed in 2005 by the center-right government that ruled at the time. In 2007, Fisheries Minister Helga Pedersen of the Labour Party limited boats’ fishing quotas on the theory that no one owns the fish in the sea and that more players should be able to get a share of the overall quota.
The idea was also to open up for new fishing boat owners by sharing quotas with them. Angry boat owners who thought they had secured quotas forever sued the state on the grounds they should be able to keep their unlimited joint quotas.
The Supreme Court ruled against them by the narrowest of margins. Now the owners hope Norway’s new conservative government will reinstate the quotas that formerly could last as long as the boats were in service. Otherwise they may appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.