The Coast Guard vessel “KV Sortland” seizure of the trawler last Saturday took place after inspectors suspect under-reporting of more than 50.000 kilos of fish, mainly cod, but also haddock and catfish. “Praia De Santa Cruz” was brought in to port in Tromsø where the police started its investigation Tuesday morning.
The Coast Guard patrolling the area east of Norway’s fishery protection zone around Svalbard had good reasons to suspicious when they boarded the Portuguese trawler in a regular inspection. “Praia De Santa Cruz” has two times earlier been arrested for under-reporting fish catch in Arctic waters.
Last time was in 2010, also then for under-reporting of catch. A year before, in August 2009 the Coast Guard’s seizure of the trawler caused diplomatic meetings between Norwegian and Portuguese authorities. The trawler’s owners then got a fine of NOK 500.000 (€66.550) and the captain got a fine of NOK 100.000 (€13.310). Lisbon disputed Norway’s right to seizure “Praia De Santa Cruz” and in particular Norway’s jurisdiction in the fishery protection zone around Svalbard.
When “Praia De Santa Cruz” now for the third time is brought in to port in Tromsø under suspicion of under-reporting catch from the waters around Svalbard, it could easily cause more diplomatic challenges between Oslo and Lisbon.