(adds details) MURMANSK, October 24 (RIA Novosti) - The Norwegian Coast Guard detained two fishing vessels near the Svalbard Islands, a local fishers' union said Monday.
The union said the Dmitry Pokramovich and Kapitan Gorbachev ships owned by the Arkhangelsk trawl fleet and the Murmansk fishing fleet were detained after the Russian sailors failed to notify Norway about their plans to enter the Medvezhy Island 12-mile zone, a process Norway requires for venturing into the zone's waters.
The union said Norwegian inspectors were to decide on the ships' fate.
The Russian embassy to Norway and the Russian Federal Fishery Service confirmed the detention. The service said if the ships were not within the 3-mile zone around Medvezhy Island, this meant they were in international waters and no notification should have been sent then.
The captains of the detained ships anchored and are awaiting instructions from ship owners. They "refuse to obey the Norwegian side's demands to follow to a Norwegian port for investigation," a Murmansk port official said, adding there were two Norwegian inspectors aboard one Russian ship and eleven on the other.
The official said that, similar to the situation with the Elektron trawler, Norway accused Russian fishers of violating Norway's fishing laws.
"But the fishing regulations were introduced by Norway unilaterally. Russian fishermen are fishing near Spitsbergen according to Russian laws," he said.
This comes on the heels of a similar incident involving a Russian trawler, detained in the Barents Sea October 15 after two Norwegian inspectors boarded the ship, accused of violating fishing rights. The trawler then fled with the inspectors still aboard to avoid arrest. An agreement was reached between Russia and Norway to allow the trawler to be convoyed to the Russian port of Murmansk.