Russia protests detention of Russian trawler
Yesterday acting Norwegian chargé d'affaires to Russland Bård Svendsen was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to be given an official complaint against the detention of a Russian fishing trawler outside Svalbard in July.
The trawler “Melkart II”, belonging to the Russian company “JSC Murman Seafood” was detained by Norwegian Coast Guard in the fisheries protection zone outside Svalbard on July 25. The vessel was accused for illegal dumping of fish and for neglect to report position and catch to the Norwegian Fisheries Directorate.
The vessel was escorted to Tromsø, where the police started investigations. The Russian captain of the vessel was given a NOK 20 000 fine (app €2700), while the ship-owner had to give bank guarantees of NOK 430 000 (app €58 000). The fines were accepted and the vessel allowed to continue fishing, Nordlys writes.
The shipowner, however, denies that the vessel was involved in illegal dumping of fish and is not willing to pay the fine before video evidence of the alleged crime has been presented. “Melkart II” produces 12-15 tons of fillets every day, which makes the loss from having the vessel in arrest a lot higher than the fines, Murman Sefood’s General Director says to Vesti.
The Russian Foreign Ministry calls the detention unacceptable and has given Norway an official complaint. Norway’s acting chargé d'affaires to Russland Bård Svendsen was summoned to the ministry on Monday to receive the note.
“The Norwegian side was strongly informed about the unalterable Russian position on the non-recognition of the so-called ‘fisheries protection zone’ around Svalbard and the unacceptable practice of detaining Russian fishing vessels in the area”, the Foreign Ministry’s web site reads.
The Foreign Ministry claims that there was no reason for escorting the vessel to port in Tromsø since the evidential foundation was so weak and the captain and crew were willing to cooperate with the Norwegian inspectors.
The Russian side at the same time underlined the importance of continuing the mechanisms for fight against illegal and unregulated fishing that have been established by the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission. The Foreign Ministry also bid the Norwegian side to respec the existing political agreements for ensuring good conditions for Russian fisheries after the entry of the Norwegian-Russian treaty on delimitation of the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean in 2011.
The fisheries protection zone near the Svalbard archipelago was established by Norway in 1977 to ensure the protection and sound management of the living resources, since this is one of the most important nursery areas for important fish stocks.
Read more about the fisheries protection zone around Svalbard on the Norwegian Government’s web pages.