Spanish fishermen held in Guinea-Bissau 'losing patience'
The crew of a Spanish fishing trawler detained two weeks ago in Guinea-Bissau for allegedly fishing too close to the west African nation are "losing patience" with their situation, its captain says.Madrid - The crew of a Spanish fishing trawler detained two weeks ago in Guinea-Bissau for allegedly fishing too close to the west African nation are "losing patience" with their situation, its captain says.
"We are losing patience. Of course we are not well," the master of the Sierra de Huelva, Manuel Ribero Escudero, told the newspaper El Mundo in an interview published on Saturday.
"We have been fishing in this area for years and we have always had good relations with the authorities," he said.
The boat is one of three Spanish trawlers seized by Guinea-Bissau and accused of fishing illegally in its waters.
Spanish news media reports say each ship should pay a fine of EUR 100,000 (USD 150,000) if they were fishing illegally, but the boat owners contend they were acting in accordance to international law.
Guinea-Bissau has a fisheries agreement with the European Union, of which Spain is a member, whereby it gets EUR 7.5 million a year in return for the right for EU fishing boats to operate in its waters.
Guinea-Bissau's fisheries minister Carlos Mussa Balde warned Friday of a crackdown on foreign fishing vessels that "loot our fish stocks," in an interview with AFP.
"We're going to step up our checks by using our national navy. Every vessel seized in our waters for illicit activity will have its haul confiscated and we will apply a severe fine on the boats' owners without half measures," he said.
In recent weeks Guinea-Bissau authorities have seized two vessels from South Korea as well as 80 fishing boats from neighbouring Senegal.