Latvian fishermen's threats cause Lithuanians concern

  • 2000-10-12
VILNIUS (BNS) - Threats by Latvian fishermen to block seaports if the bilateral maritime border treaty is ratified has caused concern among their counterparts in Lithuania.

The Lithuanian Agriculture Ministry reported that Lithuanian fishermen fear that concessions would be made to Latvians in delineating fishing grounds close to the Lithuanian border or even inside the Lithuanian territory.

The chairman of the confederation of West Lithuanian fishermen and fish processing industries, Algirdas Ausra, said that back in 1993 interstate commissions were set up to work on the delimitation of the maritime border with Latvia. After protracted talks, an agreement was reached on the state maritime borders. Therefore, claims made by the Latvian fishermen on Lithuania's 500 square meters of fishing grounds are unlawful, because this territory belongs to Lithuania, Ausra said.

The head of the ministry's fisheries department, Vytautas Vaitiekunas, said that Latvian fishermen's concern that after the ratification of the treaty they would lose grounds abounding in fish and, effectively, part of their income, was unfounded because Lithuania exchanges fishing quotas with the neighboring states in line with bilateral agreements on fisheries.

Ausra said that Lithuanian fishermen were concerned about pressure by the Latvian fishermen to the Latvian parliament.

At the end of September, the Latvian fishermen's committee on blockading the ports asked the Latvian parliament not to ratify the Latvian-Lithuanian maritime border treaty.

At present the Latvian fishermen can fish in their traditional fishing grounds until the treaty has been ratified.

Last week, the Latvian parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee presented the maritime border treaty to Parliament for final ratification.