Case closed with a small fine
‘We can attribute this incident to a misunderstanding in communication between us and the Russian coastguard. We reported ourselves into the Russian zone as we usually do, but according to the way they interpreted it, we should have waited for a confirmation message before we crossed the line. But the matter has been concluded satisfactorily with an agreement to pay a $500 dollar fine, around ISK57,000,’ said Ægir Fransson, skipper of HB Grandi’s trawler Therney.
The Russian Navy apprehended Therney yesterday for infringing Russian regulations. According to Ægir Fransson, Russian naval forces are currently carrying out extensive manoeuvres in the Barents Sea. A large area of the usual fishing grounds and shipping routes are currently closed to all traffic except at certain times and with special permission.
‘It may well be that the naval manoeuvres are the reason for this reaction. We’re used to dealing with the Russian coastguard and did everything that we’re used to doing. But now it seems to be the navy in charge of everything,’ he said.
Therney sailed from Kirkenes in Norway at midday yesterday for the check-in point for the Russian zone, which normally is four hours’ steaming.
‘We’re expected to take a Russian observer on board at this point at sea, but for many years the coastguard has asked us to take him on board inside a fjord or close to shore. That’s what we expected, but set a course for the checkpoint as we hadn’t been asked to do anything different. According to the Russian navy, we crossed the line between the Norwegian and Russian zones an hour earlier than we should have done. So we were stopped by the navy late yesterday afternoon, and two of us went over to the warship. We explained the situation and the upshot was a $500 fine and we were back on board with the observer by midnight,’ he said.
When we spoke to Ægir Fransson, he was waiting for set zones or areas to be opened for traffic from 1700 to 0500 Icelandic time, and this time window is to be used to steam the 130 nautical miles to the Goose Bank to start fishing there.