A Norwegian trawler held in Murmansk for allegedly catching shrimp illegally in Russian waters was finally sailing home on Friday. The vessel Remøy was released from three weeks in custody after Norwegian and Russian officials came to terms over what amounted to a clerical error.
The drama was set off because Norwegian fishing officials had failed to check off a box on the vessel’s papers authorizing its shrimp operations. Russian officials had arrested the vessel in Russia’s economic zone on May 10 after finding hundreds of tons of shrimp on board. They demanded NOK 90 million (USD 12 million) in bail money before they’d release the vessel and its crew of 17.
Nine of the crew members were allowed to travel home to Norway May 26, leaving the stranded Remøy with minimum staffing while they waited for the result of negotiations between Norway’s fishing and foreign ministries and their Russian counterparts. Foreign Minister Børge Brende told state broadcaster NRK that a settlement was reached that did not involve any bail payments.
“We’re very grateful for that,” shipowner Olav Remøy of fishing company Remøy Havfiske told NRK. He added that it was “scary” that such a minor error could have such serious consequences. The vessel and its relieved crew were due to arrive in Tromsø in Northern Norway over the weekend, where the Remøy’s cargo would be offloaded, the crew given liberty and replaced, and the vessel sent back out to sea “as soon as possible.”