UPDATE: Norwegian authorities demand fine from Russian trawler owner

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MURMANSK, October 26 (RIA Novosti, Yekaterina Kozlova) - Murmanrybprom, the owner of the Dmitry Pokramovich, a Russian trawler detained on October 24 near the Svalbard islands, has received notification from the Norwegian authorities demanding a $200,000 fine, the company's general director said Wednesday.

Vladimir Zagorovsky said the ship owner had sent requests to Russian authorities seeking advice as to which country's laws the ship was subject to.

A Norwegian court will hear the case of two arrested Russian vessels in the middle of December if their owners do not pay fines before procedures begin, a spokesman for the governor of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard said Wednesday. The Kapitan Gorbachev and the Dmitry Pokramovich should pay bail or fines worth about $140,000 and $200,000 respectively, the spokesman said.

If the ship owners pay fines immediately, the case will be closed. Otherwise, these sums may be transferred to a bank deposit to guarantee the payment of the fines a Norwegian court could impose if it were proved that the ships' crews were guilty of unauthorized fish reloading in Norway's territorial waters.

The Svalbard deputy governor said earlier Wednesday that the ships could be released immediately if the owners posted bail or paid fines and acknowledged Norway's claims were correct.

On Monday, the Norwegian Coast Guard detained the ships near the island of Medvezhy in the Barents Sea after the vessels entered a 12-mile exclusive fishing zone without permission.

The Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokesman, Mikhail Kamynin, said Wednesday that the Norwegian authorities had gone too far in their handling of the arrested Russian fishing vessels. "Even if Norway has reasons to say the vessels had deviated somewhat from the existing fishing regulations in that area, the Norwegian authorities' actions look excessive, whereas the sanctions they imposed do not correspond to the circumstances," he said.

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