Senegal's navy has boarded a Russian ship that was allegedly illegally fishing in its waters and is escorting it toward Dakar, the military said today.
The ship was boarded after it was observed illegally fishing in Senegalese waters near the border with Guinea Bissau, Lieutenant-Colonel Adama Diop, a military communications officer, told AFP.
"The Navy boarded it and it is being escorted" toward Dakar, he said, adding that it was the third time in a week that an illegal fishing boat has been stopped in Senegalese waters.
The boat was named as "Oleg Naidenov" by the Russian state Ria Novosti news agency, which said it had 62 Russians and 20 Guinea Bissau nationals on board. The Itar-Tass news agency said the vessel was 120 metres long.
Senegal's Fisheries Minister Haidar El Ali said the trawler had a licence in neighbouring Guinea Bissau but was not allowed to fish in Senegalese waters.
"This ship is a repeat offender," the minister told AFP. The Russian fishing boat ignored an initial warning, forcing Senegalese commandos to intervene.
On December 24, El Ali warned that Dakar would take measures against four industrial fishing vessels, including two Russian ones, that had been spotted fishing illegally off the coast the previous day.
Senegal has for several years been battling to contain unauthorised fishing by foreign trawlers in its waters, which has been blamed for depleting fish stocks, undermining the environment and endangering the livelihoods of local small-scale fishermen.