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Montevideo, December 18th 2018 - 22:21 UTC

Maya V: Uruguay and Australia hold talks

Wednesday, February 18th 2004 - 21:00 UTC
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Uruguay is holding talks with Australia and considering several alternatives for the liberation of imprisoned crewmembers from the Uruguayan flagged longliner “Maya V” caught in Australian waters allegedly illegally fishing Patagonian toothfish.

"Maya V" crewmembers are currently jailed in Fremantle waiting for trial.

Foreign Affairs Minister Didie Opertti who Tuesday afternoon together with Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Martin Aguirrezabala were invited to inform the Uruguayan Congress Standing Committee on the situation of crewmembers, said that all efforts and channels are being addressed, including the possibility of a "diplomatic repatriation".

However Mr. Opertti was quick to point out that "there is no timetable for the liberation", adding that "it's a slow process", and "we must be cautious avoiding over optimism about an immediate solution to the incident".

"Australia is an organized country where the rule of the law is pre-eminent and with a long tradition of respect for international law and agreements".

Mr. Opertti revealed that at midnight Uruguayan time, the Uruguayan Ambassador in Canberra was meeting Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister and sometime this week a similar meeting will be held with the Australian Ambassador resident in Buenos Aires, "whom we are expecting in Montevideo".

The idea of inviting the two ministers to the Standing Committee was an initiative of the ruling party Deputy Daniel García Pintos who is closely linked to the Uruguayan fishing industry and was one of the original promoters of the controversial "D" licence that authorizes fishing in international waters under Uruguayan flagged vessels.

This type of licencing tends to attract organized international IUU (illegal, unreported, unregulated) rings, --some of Spanish origin--, claim legal operators of some of the most valuable species such as Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish.

The "Maya V" allegedly was carrying close to 200 tons of toothfish valued in over 1,5 million US dollars. A few months ago another Uruguayan flagged vessel "Viarsa 1" was also apprehended by Australian authorities after a three weeks hot pursuit: she has over 100 tons of toothfish in her hold.

Categories: Mercosur.

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