Falklands ship held in Argentina; Calling the Falklands to sign off for good; This week's cruise ships; LegCo in session today; Ferry service is off to a smooth start.
Ferry service is off to a smooth startDESPITE what might have seemed to be less than favourable weather, the inaugural ferry crossing between East and West Falkland went smoothly last Friday, February 17. While only one vehicle and four passengers travelled from Port Howard to Port San Carlos, the return voyage was full with both vehicles and passengers. During the voyage Captain Ian Wilkinson of Island Shipping Ltd, operators of the vessel Tamar FI, cut a cake made to mark the occasion. Full story on page 3.
Falklands ship held in Argentina
THE owners of a Falklands registered trawler arrested by the Argentine coast guard this week say the vessel was fishing in international waters. Early on Monday, the John Cheek, owned by Petrel Trawling Company Ltd, was stopped and boarded by an Argentine coast guard vessel and ordered to proceed to the port of Comodoro Rivadavia. Jan Cheek, Director of Petrel Trawling, said the company's first concern is to "...ensure the safety and welfare of our Captain and crew," and secondly to see the "speedy return of our vessel" which the company believes "has been illegally detained". The vessel is named in honour of Mrs. Cheek's late husband, a former Legislative Councillor. According to Mercopress, the Argentine coast guard says the vessel was operating within its country's Economic Exclusion Zone. However it quotes the John Cheek'scaptain as saying, "We have never been in Argentine waters. "It would be professional suicide not to comply with the British government which permanently monitors our position." No charges have yet been laid against the captain or the company. Petrel Trawling has received no communication from the Argentine authorities and Mrs. Cheek said, as the company believes the John Cheekwas fishing in international waters, "...we do not expect that the captain or Petrel Trawling Company will face any charges." Mrs. Cheek said the John Cheek, like all Falklands-flagged vessels, has the required Vessel Monitoring System and, "...is regularly monitored by the Fisheries Department and by ourselves." Speaking on Falklands Radio this week, Acting Governor Harriet Hall said the proof that Petrel Trawling says it has that the John Cheekwas fishing in international waters will be discussed with the Argentine authorities, "...and hopefully we can resolve this incident." She said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is taking the matter "very seriously indeed" and confirmed the British ambassador in Buenos Aires has been discussing the issue with colleagues both in the Foreign Office in London and the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Penguin Newsasked Mrs. Cheek if she was concerned about the involvement of the MFA in this issue. She commented, "We assume that MFA involvement indicates that this is not viewed as a straightforward fishing case." According to the South American press, a secondary "delicate issue" will follow the Argentine investigation into alleged illegal fishing, the fact that the John Cheekflies a flag "not recognised" by the Argentine government. Miss Hall commented, "It's only to be expected they would take that view but, of course, we would thoroughly reject that. "The UK has no doubt about sovereignty over the Falkland Islands and a Falkland Islands-registered fishing vessel is entitled to fly the Falklands flag." Councillor Andrea Clausen holds the Fisheries portfolio. She said she was confident the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is "keeping a close eye" on the situation and she is "content" with the level of attention they are giving the matter. She said councillors believe the arrest was routine and there was no reason to doubt the vessel's claim that it was in international waters; she added, "...it's up to the Argentine coast guard to make their case." PN/MP
Calling the Falklands to sign off for goodTHE BBC's twice-weekly programme Calling the Falklandsis to end, after running for more than 60 years. The final programme will be broadcast on Friday, March 31. The Falkland Islands Government, Falkland Islands Media Trust and BBC World Service have signed an agreement, "...to strengthen the development of a strong, modern and independent media environment on the islands," it was announced today. The agreement follows the decision to end the broadcast of the BBC World Service's twice-weekly 15 minute Calling the Falklandsprogramme. The agreement includes: ? The continued supply of BBC World Service programming, free of charge, for rebroadcast by the Falkland Islands Radio Service (FIRS). ? A fund to support training and development of FIRS staff to build capacity in the media sector of the Islands. ? The provision of technical advice in the areas of broadcasting and transmission to aid the future technical development of the Falklands' media sector. ? A two year subscription to BBC Worldwide Radio International's package of 160 hours of annual programming (100 hours of spoken word and 60 hours of concert/pop programmes) to assist the transition to develop more original Falkland-based programming. ? Closer co-operation between the Falkland Islands' media and appropriate counterpart BBC local services in the UK and Channel Islands. Chris Simpkins, Chief Executive of the Falkland Islands Government says: "Calling the Falklandshas become something of an institution and will always have a special place in the memories of Islanders since it has reported on all significant events in the modern history of the Islands. But the time has come to move on. "The Media Trust is to be congratulated on its achievement in securing a new agreement with the BBC which will see a step change in programming and the future development of our community broadcasting station." Dick Sawle of the Falkland Islands Media Trust said: "Whilst all of us here in the Falklands will be sad to hear the last broadcast of Calling the Falklands, it is a positive sign that the Falklands is maturing both as a nation and also more specifically in media terms."Continued on page 3
This week's cruise ships THE cruise ship Rotterdamwill visit Stanley today carrying just over 1,300 passengers. Meanwhile the Aleksey Maryshev(carrying 46 passengers) will call at New Island and Carcass Island on Sunday, before visiting Long Island and Stanley on Monday. On Tuesday the NG Endeavourwill call into Stanley with 124 passengers, before visiting New Island, Carcass Island and Steeple Jason on Wednesday. Also on Thursday, the Andrea will visit Stanley with 112 passengers on board, while the Hanseatic with 188 passengers will visit Volunteer Point and then Stanley.
LegCo in session today LEGISLATIVE Council meets today in the Court and Council Chamber. Ten Bills are to be considered and six Questions for Oral Answer. Councillor Andrea Clausen will ask Councillor Mike Rendell why the re-introduction of the Medical Services Levy "is not deemed a satisfactory way to assist in fulfilling the user pays principle in respect of the Medical and Health Services." Live radio coverage will begin at 10.30am.
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