Estonian fishing vessel arrested

  • 2000-09-21
TALLINN (BNS) - The crew of an Estonian fishing vessel, Lootus 2, caught illegally fishing in international waters off the Canadian coast, was placed under arrest earlier this month in Canada.

The ship was impounded last week by inspectors of the Northwest Altantic Fishing Organization (NAFO), which discovered during a routine inspection that there was too high a percentage of flatfish among the catch that, according to international law, cannot be caught there, the daily Postimees reported.

On Sept. 14, two Estonian environmental inspectors flew to Canada to inspect the ship. Tarvo Roose, deputy general director of the environmental inspectorate, told the Postimees that according to the Canadian inspectors report, the percentage of prohibited fish caught by Lootus 2 was much higher than permitted.

"The captain sent back reports on the catch to Estonia every two days but it now appears they were wrong," Roose said.

The ship caught rays off the Canadian coast, but the inspectors discovered that the catch contained a larger quantity of different flatfish than permitted.

All ships violating the regulations are punished according to the law of their own country. If it is confirmed that the Estonian ship has violated NAFO rules, the case will be heard by an administrative court where the maximum punishment can be a fine of up to 50,000 kroons ($2,765).

Roose said one ship's violation will probably create no problems for Estonia. "NAFO rules do not include any sanctions against the country," he said.

The home port of Lootus 2 is Tallinn and the ship has an Estonian and Spanish crew.

This is the first time that Estonian inspectors have had to travel abroad to inspect catch reports.