Eight Soviet and Bulgarian trawlers captured two months ago by Argentine warships, have been given permission to sail for home.
Eight Soviet and Bulgarian trawlers captured two months ago by Argentine warships, have been given permission to sail for home. They were impounded while allegedly fishing inside the country's two-hundred-mile offshore limits. The trawlers were due to leave Argentina on Saturday or Sunday (November 19-20).
SYNOPSIS: This Soviet ship is one of the vessels which was being held in the southern port of Puerto Madryn.
They were allowed to return home following a goodwill agreement with the Soviet Embassy in Buenos Aires. But the trawlers' catches have been unloaded and impounded pending the outcome of the case. The trawlers are liable to fines of up to one hundred thousand U.S. dollars each. But the final amounts will not be known until the end of legal proceedings, which could take several months.
During the most serious incident Argentine warships fired on four of the trawlers. Three Argentine Navy officers were drowned after being swept away by heavy seas as they boarded one of the captured trawlers. A Bulgarian seaman also suffered a leg injury in the attacks.
Soviet bock trawlers have been accused of poaching by several nation, including the United States and Common market countries. But the incidents off Argentina have been the most serious to date.
For the crew members of the trawlers it has been two months with little to do except play table tennis and billiards. They have been confined to their ships.
The long-term affects of the clashes are not yet known. But the operations could prove costly for Argentina. The Soviet Union was the country's biggest trading partner last year. And a 27-man trade mission arrived in Moscow even as the Soviet ships were being threatened by the Argentine Navy.