The Lithuanian fishing vessel Jūrų Vilkas (Sea Wolf) did not cross the Russian border and was detained while fishing in international waters, the Lithuanian Agriculture Ministry said on Monday.
© T. Janonio nuotr.

The ministry cited satellite data from 17-18 September.

"The situation is unprecedented. We have checked the available data of the fishing registry and the satellite system – the vessel did not cross borders while fishing and did not violate laws. The ship was forced to the Murmansk port […]. Jūrų Vilkas was in international waters, therefore, Russian authorities had to notify international organizations and notify Lithuanian institutions," Aidas Adomaitis, acting director of the ministry's Fishery Service, said in a press release.

The Agriculture Ministry said Russian authorities violated detention procedures. In case of a suspicion that a ship may have disregarded national borders, inspectors may check the vessel, but the examination cannot be armed. Meanwhile, Jūrų Vilkas' captain had to face armed officials, and the ship was towed by force to Murmansk after the captain refused to take his ship there voluntarily.

The ministry also said the Fisheries Department has already turned to the international North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) for additional information checking.

Satellite systems have so far registered merely one case of a Lithuanian ship going too far and crossing the border – on 8 September, a ship was in the Russian zone for one hour, however, Russian institutions have not had any complaints over the incident.

The ministry also noted that fishing vessels are allowed to cross exclusive economic zone borders, if the fisheries operations are not conducted and the border is being crossed for other reasons (to avoid bad weather, en route from one fisheries zone to another, returning to port, etc.).

Lithuania's Jūrų Vilkas was detained in international waters of Russia's Barents Sea last Friday – Lithuanian authorities maintain the captain was removed by force, the crew was detained and the ship was towed to the Murmansk port.

Lithuania has sent a note to Russia over the detention.

The crew consists of 28 persons, including three citizens of Lithuania.

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