ST. PETERSBURG, January 5 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian fishing trawler detained by Senegal’s navy Saturday has arrived under escort in the port of Dakar, the ship’s owner said Sunday.
A Senegalese navy ship detained the Oleg Naidenov on Saturday with 62 Russians and 23 nationals of Guinea-Bissau on board. Yury Parshev, executive director of Feniks, the company that owns the Oleg Naidenov, said the vessel was being guarded by military police in a closed naval port in the Senegalese capital and that the passports of all the crewmembers had been confiscated.
Parshev said no official explanation for the trawler’s detention had been given, and that he hopes to meet with Senegalese officials in coming days.
On Saturday, Agence France Presse quoted a Senegalese military spokesman as saying the ship had been boarded after it was seen illegally fishing in Senegalese waters near the border with Guinea-Bissau. Parshev said the vessel was fishing legally in Guinea-Bissau’s waters. Russia’s Federal Fisheries Agency said Saturday that the ship had been operating in compliance with international standards.
The Oleg Naidenov’s captain and a female galley attendant were injured during the detention of the trawler, Parshev said. He said Sunday that their condition was not getting worse, but that they required X-rays and scans, as the galley attendant had a suspected arm fracture.
Parshev said there was no unrest on the trawler, but that people’s morale was low.
Mikhail Margelov, Russia’s presidential envoy to Africa, said Sunday that Russia was seeking an explanation of the situation from Senegalese authorities via diplomatic channels and that representatives of the Federal Fisheries Agency and Ministry of Foreign Affairs were in contact with the Russian crewmembers.
Margelov told RIA Novosti that the incident could be “an attempt to turn our citizens into a bargaining chip in the fiercely competitive battle for bio-resources in this part of the Atlantic.”
“Russia has always been interested in gaining access to the rich fish stocks of Africa’s Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Guinea, and is by no means trying to walk away from this competitive but very attractive market,” Margelov said.
“In any case, the humanitarian aspect is the most important thing for us right now. We sincerely hope the Russian nationals will be freed in the very near future,” he said.
Updated with comments from Margelov and additional comments from Parshev.