Owners of the Viarsa 1 have alleged the boarding of their ship was unlawful in an action against the Australian Government launched in the Australian Federal Court.
Navalmar SA and the Panama-based Viarsa Fishing Co Inc, have alleged Australia unlawfully exercised its statutory powers because it had no reasonable grounds to suspect the boat had been fishing inside Australian waters.
The extensive court action claim also alleges the forfeiture of the 95 tonne of Patagonian toothfish on board the vessel, and the impounding of the vessel itself, unlawful.
Seizure of the vessel is described in the court claim as 'on unjust terms', and alleges the Australian Government has refused 'or neglected to return' the vessel, catch and equipment.
A hearing regarding the claim has been delayed until March, 2004.
Peter Collins - Perth