The case relates to punishment for catching of snow crab on the Norwegian continental shelf in the Svalbard Fisheries Protection Zone without a permit from Norwegian authorities.
Before the lower courts, a central issue was whether the defendants should be acquitted since the principle of equal rights under Article 2 of the Svalbard Treaty had been violated. However, before the Supreme Court, the case has been limited for the time being only to the issues addressed by the court of appeal. This means that the Supreme Court is only to assess whether the snow crab is a sedentary species and whether catching it is punishable regardless of the application of the Svalbard Treaty in the relevant area, and regardless of whether the legal basis for exemption in section 2 of the Regulations on the Prohibition against Catching of Snow Crab (the Snow Crab Regulations) or the practicing thereof contravenes the Treaty's principle of equal rights.
SIA North Star Ltd. is a Latvian shipping company engaging in snow crab catching. It owns the vessel Senator and two other vessels equipped for this activity. A is a Russian citizen and was captain onboard Senator when the relevant catching took place