Russian authorities are demanding bail of €720,000 for the release of the Roxen, an Estonian fishing trawler impounded in the Russian Federation exclave of Kaliningrad since mid-May, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.
"They want €720,000 and for seven and half tonnes of fish," said Raivo Baum, board member of Morobell, the Haapsalu-based company which owns the Roxen.
The vessel, sailing under the Finnish flag due to EU fishing quota requirements, accidentally strayed into Russian waters in May, where it caught the 7.5 tonnes of fish Baum referred to.
Faulty navigational equipment was blamed at the time; the boat already had 340 tonnes' legally-caught fish to its complement and was due to head to Denmark for unloading when it was intercepted by Russian authorities.
The crew of four, all Estonian citizens, have also been held, with the captain being charged of a criminal act two weeks after the seizure. An Estonian consul was reportedly sent to Kaliningrad soon after the incident, in an attempt to find a solution.
Baum noted that the bail, although unreasonable, would likely be paid.
"Although the fisheries agreement between the EU and Russia states that in such cases, a reasonable amount of bail should be assigned, we do not believe that this is a reasonable amount," he said.
Moreover, Baum said that even if or when the sum is paid by Morobell, the company cannot be sure that the boat will be released, since it could be regarded by Russia as an accessory in a crime, after the Roxen's captain was charged.
"They [the Russian authorities] are saying that the trawler has damaged Russian fish stocks, although fish stocks are widepsread across the Baltic," said Baum, who noted he hoped a solution to paying the bail could be found.
Editor: Andrew Whyte