Senegal, Russia end fishing row with $1 mn accord

Senegal Russian trawler Oleg Naydenov moored in Dakar harbour on January 5, 2014.  By Seyllou AFP
JAN 22, 2014 LISTEN
Russian trawler Oleg Naydenov moored in Dakar harbour on January 5, 2014. By Seyllou (AFP)

Moscow (AFP) - Moscow has paid $1 million (750,000 euros) to Dakar in exchange for the release of a trawler accused of fishing illegally off the coast of Senegal, both sides in the dispute said Wednesday.

The announcement by Russia's fishing authority referred to the sum as a deposit, while the Senegalese fisheries minister referred to it as a fine.

Senegal impounded the Oleg Naydenov on January 4 after accusing it of fishing without a permit in its waters, causing an uproar in the Russian press.

The ship is now "free to leave", Senegalese Fisheries Minister Haidar El-Ali said, adding: "We accepted the transaction because going to court would take a lot of time and the outcome would not be guaranteed."

Earlier on Wednesday, the Russian Federal Fisheries Agency said El-Ali had, in a telephone conversation on Tuesday, "assured the Russian side that after the deposit procedures were carried out the ship would be released."

El-Ali, a renowned environmentalist turned minister who has long fought for the west African nation's waters, boasted on Wednesday: "Senegal has shown its determination to manage its fishing resources well."

After he became fisheries minister in 2012, El-Ali cancelled the licences of more than 20 foreign trawlers amid growing resentment among local fishermen whose 30-foot "pirogues", or dugout canoes, could not compete with a heavily subsidised European Union fleet of 10,000-tonne factory ships.

But non-EU trawlers are continuing to overfish the coastline, and families are finding it increasingly difficult to source the main ingredient for Senegal's national dish, a fish and rice meal known as tieboudienne.

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