MOSCOW, January 6 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Embassy in Dakar has asked Senegal’s Foreign Ministry to explain the detention of the Oleg Naidenov trawler, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday.
The Russian trawler was detained by the Senegalese navy Saturday off the coasts of Senegal and Guinea-Bissau on suspicion of illegally fishing in Senegal’s waters. It was escorted to the port of Dakar, where it was put under military police guard.
“The Russian Embassy has contacted Senegal’s Foreign Ministry for an explanation of [its] military personnel’s actions in regard to the Russian fishing vessel,” the statement said. “In cooperation with representatives of the Russian Federal Fisheries Agency in Dakar, our diplomats are taking further steps for its soonest release and return to sea.”
A spokesperson for Russia’s Federal Fisheries Agency said they had sent a request to the Senegalese authorities to authorize medical treatment for the Oleg Naidanov’s captain, Vadim Mantorov, the Prime news agency reported Monday.
Agence France Presse news agency cited Senegal's Fisheries Minister Haidar El Ali as saying Sunday that the African country planned to fine the trawler's owner about $800,000 for repeated illegal fishing in its waters.
Yury Parshev, executive director of Feniks, the company that owns the Oleg Naidenov, insists the trawler was fishing legally in Guinea-Bissau's waters. The Federal Fisheries Agency also denies any wrongdoing by the ship, which is believed to have been carrying a crew of 62 Russians and about 20 nationals of Guinea-Bissau.
The Russian-flagged vessel was caught fishing illegally in Senegalese waters in February 2012 by the Greenpeace environmental group, which subsequently put the Oleg Naidenov on a blacklist of vessels accused of poaching in West African seas. Footage of that incident shows the Greenpeace activists pulling down a piece of canvas that had been concealing the trawler's name and official number.
The head of the Federal Fisheries Agency, Andrei Krainy, told Russia's Dozhd TV on Sunday that the detention of the vessel by Senegal was "prompted" by Greenpeace. Ivan Blokov, Greenpeace's Russia director, dismissed the allegation as "strange."
Russian Embassy and Federal Fisheries Agency officials will meet with Senegal's president, Macky Sall, on Tuesday to discuss the situation, Krainy told Dozhd.
Parshev told Russia's Channel One television that the detention of the ship was an attempt to "squeeze out" Russia from the fiercely competitive fishing market off Africa's Atlantic coast, a claim that echoed comments made Sunday by Mikhail Margelov, Russia's presidential envoy to Africa.
Updated with medical request from Fisheries Agency