ARCHANGELSK, October 7 (Itar-Tass) — The Norwegian authorities have lifted the arrest of the Saphire-2 trawler of Russia in the port of Tromso, and it sailed off to the area of the Spitsbergen Archipelago to continue fishing. In was arrested there by the coastal guard on September 28 on charges that its crew members threw several cods overboard, Georgy Mikeladze, a representative of the ship owner, deputy chairman of the Archangelsk fishing cooperative named after Mikhail Kalinin, told Itar-Tass on Friday.
According to his information, the trawler sailed off on Thursday night after the presentation of a banking guarantee on the payment of a fine, which amounted to 450,000 Norwegian crowns. “The skipper of the trawler was replaced by a new one, but it is not connected with the recent developments. We just used the occasion for the planned rotation,” Mikeladze explained.
The Norwegian police fined the Saphire-2 by 450,000 kroner (some 80,000 dollars) on Thursday. According to Andrei Zaika, head of the Union of Fishing Cooperatives of Archangelsk, “the skipper and the ship owning company were fined by 50,000 and 100,000 Norwegian kroner respectively. The damage done was estimated at 300,000 kroner.” “We do not agree with those figures and shall appeal against them at the Norwegian court. Lawyers believe that the fine of 300,000 kroner for three tons of fish that the trawler had on board was very much overstated,” he said.
The Saphire-2 was detained by a coastal guard boat in the Norwegian fishing zone of the Barents Sea and was forcibly taken to the port of Tromso. The Norwegian authorities say that the video recording showed the throwing overboard of several cods, which is banned by Norwegian laws.
The Russian Foreign Ministry lodged a protest to the Norwegian ambassador over the arrest of the Russian fishing boat Saphire-2. This was the sixth arrest of Russian fishermen by Norwegians in the past three months. They were arrested in the 200-mile zone around the Spitsbergen Archipelago, which Norway proclaimed unilaterally to be its own territory. Now it applies the Norwegian fishing legislation to fishing boats of other countries.
The Saphire-2 trawler, built in 1974, belongs to six fishing cooperatives of the Archangelsk Region. It is registered in the port of Murmansk. Its crew is made up of 35 people.