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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 02:24 GMT 03:24 UK
Canada seizes Portuguese trawler
By Lee Carter
BBC News, Toronto

A cod catch
Attitudes to fisheries protection have changed in the past decade
Canadian fishing officials have seized a Portuguese trawler in the Atlantic Ocean and arrested the captain.

He has been charged with over-fishing in Canadian waters.

The Santa Mafalda and its 30-member crew was escorted into the port of St John's, Newfoundland, by the Canadian coastguard.

In 2003, officials say, the ship was seen illegally fishing within Canadian waters but the vessel escaped, and the charges stem from that incident.

Canadian fishing officials say they have been monitoring the activities of the Santa Mafalda for a long time.

They say the captain has received 14 citations for nine different incidents, but those were all in international waters outside Canada's 200-mile (320km) limit.

It is the first time Canada has seized a foreign vessel off its east coast since the so-called Turbot War 10 years ago, when the seizure of the Spanish vessel, the Estai, led to a huge diplomatic row between Canada and the European Union.

But Canada's Fisheries Minister, Geoff Regan, is quick to point out that there was more controversy then because the Estai was boarded in international waters.

He says he does not expect any protest from the Portuguese government.

Opinions have also changed over the past decade.

Just last month European Union officials were in the same port city of St John's for an international conference on over-fishing.

They pledged to do more to address the problem in the North Atlantic - a problem that many experts say is completely out of control.

Trawlers 'caught' in Canada's net
09 May 04 |  Americas
Fish 'massacre' in North Atlantic
16 Feb 02 |  Boston 2002
Cod fishing ban proposed
20 Oct 03 |  Scotland
Charles warns on vanishing fish
04 Mar 04 |  Science/Nature
Q&A: Fishing cuts and quotas
17 Dec 03 |  Science/Nature
Cod's warning from Newfoundland
16 Dec 02 |  Science/Nature

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