Three Fijian fishermen who secretly and without prior permission 'escaped' from a Korean fishing vessel in Port Stanley harbour have been arrested as 'illegal immigrants' by members of the Royal Falkland Islands Police.
The men managed to get ashore from the vessel after lowering a bucket over the side of the ship, into which they jumped and then paddled several hundred meters to the nearest land. Their disappearance was first noted on board the fishing vessel at 3-00 on Wednesday morning, and the Falklands police informed 3 hours later.
A full scale search involving the civilian Police, Falklands Defence Force (Volunteers) and British Forces using tracker dogs, was being co-ordinated when a passing motorist picked up the 3 Fijians several miles out of Stanley and conveyed them to the town. According to Inspector Len McGill of the Royal Falkland Islands Police all three men were in good health when picked up.
Following initial interrogation by police authorities the men will be handed over to Immigration officials who will deal with the incident, said Inspector Len McGill of the Royal Falklands Police.
This is not the first time that fishermen have 'jumped' ship, mostly after complaining of harsh conditions and sometimes brutal treatment from other crew members on board fishing vessels which are licensed to operate in Falklands waters. The attacks appear to be aimed at crewmen recruited from Countries other than the nationality of the fishing vessel involved.
It is not known if the 3 Fijians will be required to return to the Korean vessel on which they were employed.