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Norway has launched an enquiry into suspected illegal fishing
Norway has launched an enquiry into suspected illegal fishing in its sector of the Barents Sea by a Russian trawler, the Norwegian Embassy in Moscow said on Tuesday.

Norway's coastguard detained the Russian vessel, the Tynda, on Monday with 55 crewmembers on suspicion of illegal fishing in the area of its economic zone, which is closed for fishing. The captain of the ship was reported to have caught 160 metric tons of herring in the area.

"The enquiry is underway, the vessel is in the port of Tromse," a diplomat said. "The crew is on board the ship."

Reports on Monday said the the Tynda was stopped and examined outside the zone, and would have to pay bail. The ship owner would also have to pay a fine to be set by a Norwegian court.

An official in Russia's Barents Sea port of Murmansk said on Tuesday the ship owner could either pay a fine, bail, or provide banking guarantees and transfer the money at a later date.

"Vessels do not normally remain under arrest for long and are released after banking guarantees are provided. Ship owners do not allow their vessels to stand idle," a port official said.

Russian fishery officials said a representative of the ship owner has left for Norway to deal with the situation.

Russia and Norway have been involved in a decades-long dispute over maritime boundaries in the Barents Sea, rich in oil and gas reserves as well as fishing resources, although they have made some progress in recent years.

Detentions of fishing ships from Russia, which does not recognize Norway's exclusive rights near the Spitsbergen archipelago, have been frequent in recent years.

A drama took place in October 2005, when the Norwegians pursued a Russian vessel with two Norwegian inspectors on board across the Barents Sea for five days after trying to detain it over illegal fishing.

The captain of the Elektron was later fined $3,900 for poaching, but acquitted of illegally holding people.


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