History 01/02/20 “Seal war”: how the Norwegians ravaged with impunity the Soviet coast

Foreign poachers have long been used to hunt in the territorial waters of Russia, but sometimes this phenomenon has acquired a monstrous scale. In the 1920-1930-ies, using the weakness of Soviet Russia after the Civil war, the Norwegians cleaned destroyed commercially valuable species in the White and Barents seas.

the Beginning of the “Seal war”

in the Spring of 1920 the Red Army drove out the interventionists and white guards from the North of Russia. March 13 was taken last pockets of resistance to Murmansk. Thus, the Arctic coast were under the control of the Soviet government, not having the full fleet in the North and not recognized by most countries of the world. This military-legal “vacuum” and used Norwegian fishermen. The first invasion of poachers in Soviet waters occurred in April 1920. Foreigners beat the Beluga whale and the ringed seal, walrus, polar bears. Particularly affected white sea population of harp seals in total, the Norwegians and the Finns in 1920 killed 160 thousand individuals. It is 8 times higher than the then-Soviet trade.

Attempts to settle

the Situation demanded an immediate response, primarily legal. In may 1920 order of the commander of Naval forces North sea was first marked the boundaries of the territorial waters of the Russian Federation to the North. And in the decree of the CPC in 1921, it was emphasized that “the right of production of fish and fishery animal is available only to Russian citizens.”

“on the Russian side there were difficulties in ensuring the protection of Maritime borders, – says candidate of legal Sciences Zhanna Ivanova. – However, the use of icebreakers allowed to pursue poachers and seize the prey.”

In 1922 the Soviet border guards detained a few dozen poaching schooners. The Prime Minister of Norway Johan Mowinckel was forced to warn hunters about the “risk” that they put themselves in Soviet waters. To help the poachers Norwegians sent to the shores of the RSFSR “ship protection fishing” “Heimdall”.

“during the patrol, “Heimdall” to prevent the detention of the Norwegian courts, the leading battle of seals in the patrol area”, – stated in the vehicle instruction (cited in the collection of documents “Soviet-Norwegian relations. 1917-1955”).

In the end, the Bolsheviks considered that if it is impossible to effectively protect the coast, then you need to demand “their share”. In 1922 over 200 thousand kroons, the government has provided the Norwegian company Winge a concession for the extraction of marine animals in the Soviet zone. The continuation of this policy was the conclusion at the end of the 1923 Treaty between the USSR and Oresundstag a group of shipowners. It was assumed that the group would be interested in protecting “their” areas from poachers.

the Continued predation

the Norwegians-concessionaires behaved no better than the “illegals” actually having the right to destroy all life on the Northern coast of Russia, including on the most valuable area – the Throat of the White sea. The concession fee was disadvantageous for the Russian Federation – it amounted to only 5.8% of the cost of production. In 1923-29 he Norway officially produced in the Soviet waters of 1.4 million heads of animals. When this did not spare the young that put a kind of harp seals to the brink of destruction. The opinion of Professor-zoologist Nestor Smirnov, who placed the issue of restrictions on the production of pups born, was a little worried the Bolshevik leaders.

“I Remember in 1924, at the meeting of the CPC I insisted on setting a deadline to begin hunting the beast, to give the seal to grow up. Stalin laughed: “Kollontai and then wants to engage in the protection of maternity and infancy,” wrote in the diary of the diplomat Alexandra Kollontai.

At the same time, the concession had little impact on the poaching. The raids to Soviet banks continued in the late 1920’s, the guards “caught red-handed” in total about 500 foreign vessels. In 1932, after the arrest of 10 vessels in Norway even sent to the White sea for the protection of poachers ship “Fridtjof Nansen”. The “seal war” ended in 1933, thanks to the emergence of the USSR Northern fleet. But the Norwegians beat the beast in the Russian North until 1940, when he was terminated Alesandra concession.

Timur Sagdiyev

© Russian Seven

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