Russian boats caught in the act – no punishment – NRK Norway – Overview of news from different parts of the country

Several times these shipping companies’ boats have been seized for illegally importing fish into Norway. NRK can reveal that Russian boats have escaped punishment, even though the Norwegian Food Safety Authority was an eyewitness to the cheating on the quay.

On the evening of 14 May 2020, the Russian trawler “Borey” arrived at Kirkenes terminal. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority routinely met to check the quality of the catch.

While the Norwegian Food Safety Authority was on the quay, fish were carried straight from the trawler to a Norwegian-registered van. The inspector responded.

“This is illegal importation of goods of animal origin from Russia into the EEA”, writes the inspector in the inspection report.

First, the inspector spoke to the Norwegian with the car. He admitted that he had taken fish from Russian vessels many times. An employee at the Kirkenes terminal said that he had seen illegal importation of fish on the quay several times. According to the inspector’s report.

While the inspector was talking to the man with the van, the Russians brought the fish back on board. The person from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority was alone at work. She thus did not manage to seize the fish, according to the report.

The episode was never reported. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority informs NRK. Their routine when they discover illegal importation of fish is to confiscate the fish.

May-Tove Iversen, section manager for the Norwegian Food Safety Authority in Finnmark.


– We do not know what happened after the fish was taken back to the vessel. We have no authority on board a Russian vessel, says May-Tove Iversen, who is head of section at the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.

The shipping company that owns “Borey”, Nord-Cap, has not responded to NRK’s ​​inquiry.


“Borey” regularly visits Norwegian ports.

Photo: Alexey Shmatkov

No routine check

The illegal importation took place while the Norwegian Food Safety Authority was on the quay. Most Russian boats arrive in Norway without any form of routine inspection. The system is based on trust. Even now in times of war.

Although Putin has started a war against Ukraine, no permanent controls have been introduced on Russian fishing vessels. Fishing is one of the few areas where Norway does not have sanctions against Russia.

Whether the Russian calls are controlled is determined by what the boats themselves report. Only when fish of Russian origin is delivered are there routine checks. Through registration, the Russian boats themselves can influence whether they are checked or not.

It applies to a minority of calls from 1 January to 30 April this year. NRK’s ​​survey shows:

Fish was delivered from Russian vessels in Kirkenes 27 times. In the same period, there were 103 calls from Russian fishing and freezer vessels in the border town.

When the Russian vessels do not report the delivery of fish, there are no checks from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority or the Directorate of Fisheries. The customs office can show up when the Russian boats dock. They do not have routine checks.

The customs agency confirms that they have had controls in Kirkenes this year. They will not answer whether there have been controls after the outbreak of Putin’s war in Ukraine.

– The customs agency monitors vessel traffic to Eastern Finnmark and implements customs controls when this is deemed necessary. The agency does not want to specify the number of customs checks or which vessels are checked, writes the communications advisor Thore Simenstad.

Kirkenes is a 20-minute drive from the Russian border.

The Russian fishing vessels do not just stop by Kirkenes. This year, Russian trawlers have visited five other cold storage facilities: Tromsø Terminal, Troms Freeze Terminal, Båtsfjord Freeze Terminal, Eimskip Norges Terminal at Sortland and Holmen Freeze Terminal at Holmen.

Here, the control procedures are the same as in Kirkenes.

Two worlds

As NRK revealed in March, Russian boats delivered fish in Norway for NOK 1.6 billion i 2020.

The sanctions against Russia following the war in Ukraine do not affect Russian fishing vessels. Most things go as before.

A mile and a half away from the harbor in Kirkenes, the situation is completely different. The border with Russia has been closed here for Russian freight transport since 29 April.

The Ministry of Finance manages the Directorate of Customs. They do not answer how sanctions against Russia affect customs preparedness for the port of Kirkenes.

– It is the Customs Agency itself that must assess how the agency should prioritize its control resources based on risk and materiality, writes communications advisor Celine Lyse Augdal to NRK.

The ministry does not respond to what assessments the authorities have made about the presence of customs officers in Kirkenes.

Russian trailers drive over Storskog in Finnmark

The border between Norway and Russia at Storskog is closed to Russian freight transport.

Photo: Kristina Kalinina / NRK

Several taken

In the same year that Borey was caught, the Russian trawler “Kokshaysk” was caught for illegally importing fish at the Kirkenes terminal, according to a report from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.

The fishing collective Chapoma, as owner «Kokshaysk»claim that they have no information that they have done anything wrong.

– Why would we deliver some of the fish illegally to private individuals? The probability of that is about zero. It is not lucrative and it is illegal. This could have happened in the 90s, but not today.

That’s what the commercial director says i fiskekollektivet Chapoma, Evgeny Korshenko.

The shipping company was not contacted in the matter, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority informs NRK.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority notified the shipping agent the shipping company had in Norway instead. The shipping agents help the Russian shipping companies with practical tasks in Norway.

Catches from “Kokshaysk” have been registered with the Directorate of Fisheries on the date in question. It happened after the book. The illegal import observed by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority was on the side of the ordinary catch.

– For us, it is important to be transparent. Norway is one of the last markets we have the opportunity to trade in, says Korshenko.


The Russian trawler “Kokshaysk”.

Photo: KV Farm

Got toppings

After the two episodes at the Kirkenes terminal, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority asked the terminal to take action. They had to create routines for written notification in the event of illegal importation of fish. General Manager at Kirkenesterminalen, Øyvind Andersen, replied:

“The Kirkenes terminal must, of course, help to prevent illegal imports from occurring, and in that blind spot we have sent an e-mail to all agents in Kirkenes that illegal imports will be notified to the authorities”.

Kirkenes cold storage, 040322

The Kirkenes terminal has a capacity for 6,000 tonnes of fish.

Photo: André Bendixen / NRK

In the Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s report, it was stated that one employee explained that he had seen illegal imports several times. Andersen came up with another explanation.

“Kirkenesterminalen would like to make it clear that the terminal’s employees have not witnessed illegal imports beyond the two cases mentioned in this case”.

Kirkenes Terminalen is not aware of any more cases, Andersen replies to NRK’s ​​question whether they have observed illegal importation of fish after the two cases in 2020.

According to Andersen, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority discovered small quantities of fish.

– In one case there may be approximately 10-20 kilos of fish, and in the other case there were 1 to 2 cans of liver of approximately 230 grams each, he writes to NRK.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has other figures. They state that it was 42 kilos of redfish and 48 cans of canned cod liver. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has not detected or received notifications about the illegal importation of Russian fish after the two episodes in 2020.

Redfish and common redfish.

Catfish is known to be a good food fish.

Photo: Erlend Astad Lorentzen / Institute of Marine Research

Does not use carrot

Landings of fish have been recorded for only a quarter of the calls from Russian fishing vessels in Kirkenes. That so many do not deliver fish, Andersen explains with politics.

– Russia has decided that all Russian fish caught in the Russian zone, and everything caught east of the North Cape, must be unloaded in Russia.

So what do Russian fishing boats do in Norway, if they don’t deliver fish? NRK’s ​​surveys show that most people report that they are going to pick up provisions,


” data-term=”bunkers “>bunkers and/or services at the mechanical workshop Kimek.

Does not use carrot

The cost level in Norway is higher than in Russia. Nevertheless, Russian boats report that they take the detour to Kirkenes to pick up fuel, food and drink.

One carrot Norway offers is duty-free food and drinks. But only 10 out of 24 boats that have registered provisioning as an errand in Norway applied for duty-free, NRK’s ​​review shows.

None of the shipping agents NRK has been in contact with will answer why they did not apply for duty-free provisions.

38 of the Russian fishing vessels reported that they were going to bunker in Kirkenes – i.e. refuel

– High Norwegian taxes make it unattractive to bunker in Norway compared to Russia. What discounts and agreements the Russian boats have means that I do not know what they pay in Murmansk, says general manager of Bunker Oil, Jan Kleven.

Jan M. Kleven

Jan M. Kleven, CEO of Bunker Oil.

Photo: Besnik Zogaj / NRK

There may be explanations for Russian boats going to Norway to bunker down.

– How the conditions are in Murmansk now, I don’t know well enough. Bureaucracy makes it easier to bunker down there, as in Norway. Since everything has to be transported to Murmansk by rail, there have been capacity problems, he says.

It is also cheaper to bunker on land in Kirkenes than if they were to do this at sea, adds Kleven.

Hi! Do you have any input for us?

Do you know more about this case or other matters in the fishing industry that NRK should investigate? Feel free to contact us by e-mail, telephone or encrypted via Signal

  • Fredrik Kampevoll: +47 41 767 111
  • Line Tomter: +47 971 50 094

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