A Russian trawler that has been fishing offshore occupied Western Sahara much of last year, has now been seized by the Senegalese authorities for illegal fishing.
The Oleg Naydenov is a floating fish factory with a capacity of over 7,500 tonnes, owned by the Murmansk Trawl Fleet. The vessel has been active in Western Saharan waters for large periods of last year, under a four-year fisheries agreement between Russia and Morocco. But ever since the agreement was inked early 2013, all 10 Russian vessels allowed to operate under the deal have exclusively fished in the waters off Western Sahara, not Morocco.
Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975 and subsequently went on to occupy large areas of the territory, in blatant violation of international law.
Currently, the 10 Russian trawlers aren't active in Moroccan or occupied waters, since the Moroccan government had been going through a procedure of annually reviewing the implementation of the fisheries agreement. The Foreign Affairs committee of the Moroccan parliament approved a bill that allows for continued fishing last Thursday
, 2 January 2014.
As a result, the Russian trawlers were deployed elsewhere. And yet again, it seems that the Russians got the geography wrong.
The Oleg Naydenov was officially fishing in Guinea-Bissau, but was captured on Saturday 4 January by the Senegalese government, for fishing illegally in its waters.
Illegal fishing, mostly by trawlers from the former Soviet bloc, costs Senegal $250 million a year, according to official figures, states an article by Reuters
The trawler has been impounded in the port of Dakar and will be heavily fined and its fishing material seized in conformity with Senegalese law, the Senegalese Minister for Fisheries told Reuters, adding that it was the third time this trawler had been fined.
Greenpeace blacklisted the Oleg Naydenov a few years ago. The organisation has also targetted the vessel while fishing illegally in Senegal in 2012
. Ironically, that action took place on board of the Arctic Sunrise, a Greenpeace campaign vessel currently impounded by the Russian government.