EU urges Russia to release arrested Lithuanian vessel

DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

“We are concerned by the forced apprehension of the Lithuanian fishing vessel ‘Jūros Vilkas’ by Russian border guards in high seas waters of the Barents Sea on Sept. 18, the subsequent detention of the vessel and its crew, as well as its forceful towing to Russian territory,” the community said in the statement.

“The European Union calls on Russia to respect its international obligations and to immediately release the vessel,” reads the document.

Moscow is also urged to refrain from any action in contravention of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Law of the Sea vis-à-vis fishing vessels flying the flag of a member-state of the EU.

Last week, the official Vilnius turned to the European Commission (EU) with a request to represent Lithuania in the case of the fishing vessel detained in the Barents Sea.

“Lithuania seeks to defend the legitimate interests of the fisheries company and citizens by getting help of the European Commission, which represents the European union in the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission,” Agriculture Minister Virginija Baltraitienė then said in a press release.

According to the press release, the territory where the ship was detained is in the area administered by the commission, which includes eight countries, namely, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, the European Union, Russia, Canada, New Zealand, Saint Kitts and Nevis.

The ministry is working on thorough information to be sent to the European Commission’s Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Directorate, which is expected to mediate in the settlement of the disagreements with Russia.

Russia maintains that the Lithuanian boat was involved in unlawful fishing in the Russian economic zone at the time of detention.

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