The Argentine government confirmed a fine of 5.3 million Pesos (approx 800.000 Euros) and another 300.000 Euros to liberate the forfeited catch on board, mostly squid, of the Spanish flagged vessel ‘Piscator’ caught last 2 July allegedly illegally operating in Argentine waters and which remains retained in Puerto Madryn.
According to Spanish sources, even when dissenting with the sanction, the owners of the vessel Pesqueras del Bon who sent two high ranking envoys of the company to Puerto Madryn, are prepared to pay the fine so that the ‘Piscator’ can abandon Argentina as soon as possible.
The 72 metres long fishing vessel with its crew of 30 is docked in the Patagonian port since July 2, and crew and officers have been treated correctly and are allowed to go ashore and move around the city with not much restriction, according to Manuel Garcia Pastoriza and General Manager Carlos García from Pesqueras del Bon.
Spanish sources insist the ‘Piscator’ always kept to international waters, but admit there could have been a minimum error of location, non intentional.
Two days after the arrest the Spanish government Sea Secretariat said that the ‘Piscator’ had always been operating in international waters, and the incident could be an “error or appreciation”, but at the moment of the reported arrest she was eight miles away from the outer limit of Argentina’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
Likewise it is mandatory for all vessels that are more than 12 metres long to have a ‘blue box’ or vessel location system which in constantly sending messages via satellite of her course and position.
However according to the Argentine Coast Guard at the moment of arrest the vessel apparently was in the EEZ, more precisely at the mile 1999.75 or approximately 600 metres inside Argentine waters.
The ‘Piscator’ was detained on 2 July and escorted by an Argentine Coast Guard vessel to Puerto Madryn where she arrived 4 July. The captain Juan Carlos Fandiño was questioned and there was an inspection of the vessel before all the data was sent to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Fisheries Department in Buenos Aires, which replied later in the week with the fine and another sum to recover the cargo in the hold and deck when she was arrested.
Spanish sources from Vigo point out that ‘Pesqueras del Bon’ are prepared to pay the fine and have the ‘Piscator’ return to the high seas to continue fishing in international waters.