At the outset, the owners and operators of Norwegian ports are obliged to permit entry to vessels as far as the port’s capacity allows, pursuant to section 27 of the Harbour and Fairways Act. This duty is not intended to limit the owner’s or operator’s opportunity to decide for themselves the scope of the port’s activity.
The intention of the provision is to ensure that maritime transport is given access to the port infrastructure that the port owner in fact has made available to general traffic, or else the type of traffic that the port has decided to admit to the port section in question.
Pursuant to section 27, the ports can deny entry to vessels if their admittance endangers the environment or security. Ports are allowed to deny entry to a vessel because of its risk to the environment if there is a current and probable threat to the environment. The term “security” refers here to the physical security of the port itself.
A vessel can be denied entry if such entry threatens to damage the port infrastructure or the people who are in the port. National security assessments are not encompassed by the term “security” in section 27, cf. the statement by the Ministry of Transport. Such assessments are made by the Ministry of Defence and not by the individual port.
Naturally, the ports’ obligation to allow vessels to enter is suspended in regard to vessels that are sanctioned.