On Thursday, the government announced stricter restrictions on which ports Russian fishing vessels could enter. The government will also tighten restrictions on incoming fishing vessels.
But Ståle Ulriksen, a researcher at the FHS Naval Academy, believes that there are still many security loopholes that need to be closed along the coast.
– The Norwegian coast is very vulnerable. “The main problem is that we have too many ships that we don’t have control of sailing along our coast,” he says.
According to the researcher, there are 253 Russian sea captains who have Norway Pilotage Certificate. There are approximately 700 testimonials in total.
This means they can sail large ships off the Norwegian coast without a Norwegian pilot on board. A pilot is a navigator who guides ships through Norwegian waters and is unguarded.
In practice, large ships can sail along the coast without knowing who is in Norway.
– We know who the captain is because he has to identify himself when he gets his pilot’s certificate, but we don’t have an overview of the others. Ulriksson says that the sea captain should hand over the crew list, but we haven’t had a chance to check it.
– With a pilot on board, it will be easier to spot deviations from the norm, he continues.
Those with a pilot’s certificate can often dock at all Norwegian ports.
Having a pilot’s certificate for Russian sea captains has been problematic since 2015, when it was learned that a Russian captain was encouraged by Russian authorities to obtain a pilot’s certificate.
– I think, because the Russians need people who know the Norwegian coast, which is difficult. We fear that the Russians will act like the Norwegian navy, for example the intelligence to lay mines and detailed knowledge of fuel facilities, says the researcher.
Ulriksson calls for action and believes pilot certificates should be confiscated. In addition, exclusion zones should be located near land-based facilities for oil and gas and other critical infrastructure, such as the fighter jet base at Ørlandet.
– We were a crazy open society, which means that if someone wants to take us, they have many ways to take us, he says.
Mehal: – limited quantity
Dagbladet has asked Justice and Emergency Services Minister Emilie Enger Mehl whether it is appropriate to withdraw pilotage certificates or reduce the possibility of obtaining this certificate.
– We continue to assess the need for more robust measures. When it comes to this precise pilotage scheme, it only applies to a small number of vessels, as there are also small vessels in Norwegian waters that are not obliged to pilot, she replies.
– So, we estimate this to have a limited effect, but it’s part of what we’re continuing to look at.
He says the only three Norwegian ports that can receive Russian fishing vessels now have more resources than they did last week.
– The Ministry of Finance has asked the customs agency to have more specific efforts related to the three ports, and the objective is to check all incoming vessels covered by the exception, Mehl says.
– Police will work closely with customs authorities and they will increase their presence and activity towards the three ports. That’s part of the reason it’s important to be tight-lipped — because it helps sharpen control measures, he says.
“Music geek. Coffee lover. Devoted food scholar. Web buff. Passionate internet guru.”