Russia seeks explanations from Senegal over seized trawler

MOSCOW Mon Jan 6, 2014 7:44am EST

MOSCOW Jan 6 (Reuters) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Monday it was seeking explanations from Senegal after the west African country seized a Russian trawler on Saturday on suspicion of illegal fishing.

The Senegalese Fisheries Ministry said it planned to fine the Oleg Naydenov trawler, now impounded in the port of Dakar, and to seize its fishing materials as it tries to curb heavy losses from fish pouching.

Illegal fishing, mostly by trawlers from the former Soviet bloc, costs Senegal 120 billion CFA francs ($250 million) a year, according to official Senegalese figures.

"The Russian embassy sought explanations from the Senegalese Foreign Ministry over the military actions towards a Russian fishing vessel," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"In cooperation with the Rosrybolovstvo official in Dakar, our diplomats are undertaking further steps aimed at the vessel's earliest release and departure," it said, referring to Russia's federal fishing agency.

Rosrybolovstvo said earlier that the trawler had been in the territorial waters of neighbouring Guinea-Bissau and had not been fishing at the time of its seizure.

Russian media quoted its captain, Vadim Mantorov, as complaining about what he called an excessive use of force by Senegalese forces. (Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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