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Russia wants explanations over seized trawler as Senegalese inspectors find no violations onboard

Published time: January 06, 2014 19:59
Russian fishing vessel the Oleg Naydenov (archive) (Pierre Gleizes/Greenpeace)

Russian fishing vessel the Oleg Naydenov (archive) (Pierre Gleizes/Greenpeace)

The Russian Foreign ministry has demanded explanations from Senegal over the detention of a Russian trawler, which remains at the port of Dakar. While a Senegalese inspection aboard the vessel, suspected of illegal fishing, failed to find any violations.

“Our diplomats together with the representatives of Rosrybolovstvo (Russia’s Federal Fisheries Agency) in Dakar are taking furthers steps to ensure the release of the vessel and its departure to sea,” a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry said.


The Russian delegation is scheduled to meet Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, on Tuesday to discuss the release of the Oleg Naydenov.

The Russian trawler was stopped by the Senegalese military 46 miles off the shore of Guinea-Bissau in West Africa on January 4.

The vessel was then escorted to the port Dakar, with the soldiers using force against the captain and several crew members.

There are 62 Russians and 20 Guinea-Bissau citizens aboard the Oleg Naydenov, which is owned by Feniks (Phoenix) company from Russia’s northern city of Murmansk. It is a big fishing boat of Moonzund type, 120 meters long, which was built in Germany in 1989.

Senegal’s fisheries minister, Haidar El-Ali, said the Russian ship was stopped for repeatedly violating fishing regulations in the country’s territorial waters.

According to the minister, the Oleg Naydenov may face a fine over 600,000 euros as well as seizure of fishing equipment and all its catch.

However, the ship-owner’s CEO, Yury Parshev, said he was unaware of the reasons for the trawler’s detention as the Feniks company still hasn’t been officially contacted by the government of Senegal.

Senegal’s Fisheries Ministry has conducted an inspection of the Russian trawler, but failed to find any violations, Parshev told ITAR-TASS news agency.

“During the inspection the Senegalese specialists checked the vessel, all the documentation, ship logs, permits, cargo and fishing gear. There were no comments made in their report, which means no violations,” he stressed.

According to Parshev, the catch, which is estimated at approximately 395,000 euros, remains in the refrigerated ship’s holds.

Senegal's Fisheries minister Haïdar El-Ali speaks, watched by Capitaine de Vaisseau Khalifa Ndione of the Senegal navy opposite a Russian trawler "Oleg Naïdenov" , moored in Dakar on January 5, 2014. (AFP Photo/SEYLLOU)

Russian captain requires urgent medical help

The captain of the Russian trawler, Vadim Mantorov, says he’s ready to come ashore for urgent medical attention, Prime news agency reports.

He needs a kidney ultrasound and the military doctor, provided by the Senegalese, doesn’t have the necessary equipment with him, the captain told journalists during a radio-communication session.

Previously, Mantorov refused to leave his ship, even when the Senegalese military tried to use physical force.

The violence during the detention of the Oleg Naydenov resulted in the captain being bruised and the ship’s barmaid receiving a fractured arm.

According to Parshev, a local clinic was ready to accept the Russian captain on Tuesday, but he could not leave the ship as his passport, which was confiscated by the Senegalese military, still hasn’t been returned.

Greenpeace trace?

Rosrybolovstvo representative in Western Africa, Aleksandr Biryukov, expressed hope that the Oleg Naydenov will be released after the Russian delegation’s meeting with Senegalese president on Tuesday – and that the incident won’t affect relations between Moscow and Dakar.

“The wave of tension has subsided, now efforts are being taken to find a solution to the problem at the negotiating table,”
Biryukov is sited as saying by ITAR-TASS news agency.

“Senegal’s president hopes to expand cooperation with Russia and expects to restore the level of economic and political relations the two countries had during the Soviet era,” he added.

The order to seize the Russian trawler didn’t come from the President, but from the country’s fisheries minister, Haidar El-Ali, who also has such authority, the Rosrybolovstvo representative stressed.

El-Ali is a well-known ecologist, who heads Senegal’s Green Party, he explained.

“The actions by Greenpeace are clearly traced here,” Biryukov suggested.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace has criticized Senegal’s authorities over the detention of the Oleg Naydenov.

“Even a violation of the law, if it ever took place, shouldn’t lead to such a disproportionate use of force in response,” the environment organization said in a statement, forwarded to Interfax news agency.

Greenpeace expressed regret over the whole incident, saying that it “feels for the crew of the ship.”

“We can only call for a peaceful dialogue and proper treatment of the people. Any suspicions – whether it’s piracy or illegal fishing – are no reason to violate somebody’s rights,” the statement concluded.

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