Romania has yet to Explain Why it Detained Bulgarian Fishing Vessels

Politics | March 27, 2023, Monday // 08:21
Bulgaria: Romania has yet to Explain Why it Detained Bulgarian Fishing Vessels Port Constanta @Wikimedia Commons

"There is still no official act on the basis of which the Bulgarian fishing vessels are detained, and this raises serious concerns," Deputy Minister of Agriculture Georgi Sabev told journalists in Balchik during a meeting with the fishermen whose vessels were detained at the port in Constanta.

"We have many questions and doubts about the legality of this act. As far as we understand, the Bulgarian ships were detained based on requirements exclusively of the Romanian legislation, and not of the pan-European legislation in the field of fisheries. European legislation takes precedence over any kind of national decrees, regulations and orders," he added, quoted by BTA.

Sabev explained that the Bulgarian ships were fishing in a water area that is managed by the community - of the entire European Union.

"They have the right to fish other than the quota stocks. At the level of the European Union for the Black Sea, there is a quota and quantity limit only for turbot and sprat. For the other types of vessels of the other countries of the European Union, they can safely carry out fishing. This is what the Bulgarian fishing vessels did as well," he added.

The Deputy Minister stated that today an urgent meeting will be held at the Ministry of Agriculture with all parties involved in the matter.

"We will provide full support to our sector. We have direct contact with the Bulgarian ambassador there and with the various control bodies, including the Fisheries and Aquaculture Executive Agency" (FAEA), added the minister.

An official document was not provided to the Bulgarian inspectors from FAEA, who also participated in the inspection of the three fishing vessels, Sabev also said.

"The document was only available in Romanian. There was an interpretation of the moment, there were ambiguities. The Bulgarian inspectors reflected this in the opinion, but they were not provided with such a document," he explained.

Sabev recalled that we have a "similar" case from 2011, when a Bulgarian fishing vessel was unlawfully detained in Romania. This was confirmed by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg a few months ago, he added. These practices, which are illegal, in our opinion, must be stopped, said the Deputy Minister of Agriculture.

Regarding the request for the resignation of the director of FAEA - Assoc. Dr. Vanya Stamatova, on behalf of the fishermen, the deputy minister replied that "at the moment when there is a real basis for seeking and demanding such responsibility, action will be taken appropriate measures". However, in his words, changing the executive director of an agency takes technological time, and if we now move to such administrative procedures, "we may do a disservice to the sector."

Yesterday, all sailors from the three detained Bulgarian fishing vessels returned to Bulgaria. First six, then the other four.

The three captains and one of the sailors who had delayed remained to seal the three ships. Our ambassador Radko Vlaikov indicated to BTA that the ships will be detained and sealed with a prosecutor's order.

The fishermen themselves declared in Balchik that they were not to blame. They didn't have a ban, just a shark catch quota. The same was stated by the Minister of Agriculture Yavor Gechev on bTV. According to him, our ships are detained illegally, they have done nothing wrong. Bulgaria will provide full support, including legal support, to the victims.

The state will help with a lawyer, competence, and may write a note, but first it will wait for the official documents for the detention, Gechev added.

Ambassador Vlaikov expressed his satisfaction with the release of the Bulgarian sailors. He emphasized that in the last 36 hours, the efforts of the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy were fully focused on the work of releasing the sailors, and how the issue with the ships will develop depends entirely on the Romanian prosecutor's office.

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Tags: Constanta, Bulgarian, ships, Romanian

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