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    PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, January 5th, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - Three fishing vessels bearing the flags of Belize and Panama have been detained near the Kamchatka coast (Russia's Far East). Andrei Orlov, the chief spokesman of the North-Eastern regional border guard department of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), said as much to RIA Novosti.

    In his words, a border guard aircraft was making a routine inspection flight over the Sea of Okhotsk when it tracked down three fishing vessels in a banned area.

    A patrol ship, the Argal, with an examination team onboard was sent to the area to check the vessels.

    Two ships, the Artol and the Robin-1, bearing the Panamian flag, and a ship, Avtod, with a flag of Belize, were caught in an exclusive economic zone of the Russian Federation and failed to notify Russian border guards about their location. Earlier, they had all been detained under other names for violating fishing regulations and crab poaching.

    The positioning system was switched off on all the three vessels.

    Border guards aboard the aircraft could see crab products and fishing equipment thrown into the sea from the Artol and the Robin-1.

    About 7 tons of live crabs were discovered onboard the Avtod and released back into the sea after recalculation.

    The ships are now being convoyed to the port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky for further examination.

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