'Pirate trawler' seized by Norwegian police – Fishupdate.com

‘Pirate trawler’ seized by Norwegian police Published:  04 July, 2006

NORWEGIAN police yesterday continued to question the skipper of a trawler seized over the weekend on charges of massive illegal fishing in northern waters, according to the Norwegian website aftenposten.no. The skipper and the mysterious vessel’s owner reportedly face stiff fines.

The vessel, which allegedly has changed its name and flag state several times, is now under arrest in the northern Norwegian port of Vadsø. Coast Guard authorities towed the vessel, currently called Joana, into port after placing 10 officials on board.

The skipper, who is Spanish, had reportedly refused to cooperate with the authorities. The vessel is accused of using illegal nets that allowed it to virtually sweep the sea for everything from shrimp to halibut.

If the skipper refuses to put up a bank guarantee to cover expected fines, the vessel will remain under arrest pending a court case. A Portuguese firm has claimed ownership of the vessel and says it is registered in Sao Tome.

The vessel disappeared from Lloyd’s ship registry in November 2002 and no fishing records were found on board. Rune Furevik of the Norwegian Coast Guard claims the vessel is guilty of both fishing violations and environmental crimes.

The Coast Guard started taking action against the trawler late last week. It was boarded despite the skipper’s refusal to stop the vessel, take up its nets or head for a Norwegian port as ordered. Attempts to board by helicopter were also resisted.

The trawler is suspected of illegally hauling in as much as 100 tons of fish a day. “It’s important for Norway to take action against such trawlers,” Henry Djupvik reportedly said, himself a former fisherman who’s now with the Coast Guard. “If we don’t do anything, even more will fish illegally in our waters.”

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