Canada seizes Portuguese fishing boat off Atlanic OTTAWA , May 30 (Reuters) – Canada said on Monday it seized a Portuguese fishing boat off its Atlantic coast, the first time since its “Turbot War” of 1995 it has seized a foreign vessel.
The Santa Mafalda was carrying 30 crew and one observer. Its captain will face charges of fishing illegally inside Canada’s 200-mile exclusion zone for foreign fishing ships, said Morley Knight, director of conservation and protection in Newfoundland and Labrador.
He said the Santa Mafalda had been issued 14 citations for incidents in international waters in the past 10 years.
The crew remain in the boat, which is docked in St John’s, Newfoundland.
“This is a message that we take these matters seriously. This is a matter involving fishing inside Canadian waters.” Fisheries Minister Geoff Regan told reporters.
The Portuguese embassy in Canada had no immediate comment.
Canada has outstanding warrants for foreign vessels that go back 20 years. In 1995 Canada seized one Spanish ship and slashed the nets of another vessel in a hot-tempered dispute over what Ottawa said was excessive turbot fishing.
The incident became so heated that Canada and Spain deployed gunboats in the North Atlantic in what became known as the Turbot War. The European Union backed Spain’s cause and accused Canada of piracy. Both side eventually backed down.
The Canadian fishing industry — hard hit a decade ago by the collapse of cod stocks — has long complained about foreign boats fishing on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks area off Newfoundland.
Last year Canada said it would spend an extra C$15 million ($12 million) to boost patrols off the Grand Banks and would board more foreign vessels.
Reuters By Luke McCann