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Norway detains second Russian fishing boat in week

MURMANSK, September 21 (RIA Novosti) - Norway's authorities have seized another Russian trawler off its Arctic coast, a Russian fishery official said Thursday.

"The Norwegian authorities have reportedly accused the ships' crews of unauthorized fish reloading from two trawlers in Norway's territorial waters," a spokesman for the Russian Fishermen's Union of the North said, adding the trawler was convoyed to the port of Tromso.

The Kapitan Pryakhin is the second Russian fishing boat seized in Norway this week. The Norwegian coast guard seized the Perseus-3 trawler Sunday for alleged overfishing, and convoyed it to the port of Vadso (118 miles from the Russian border).

The vessel was released Wednesday night and arrived at the Russian port of Murmansk Thursday.

Union boss Gennady Stepakhno said earlier in the day a fine was imposed on the trawler before its release. He said the owner will protest the decision in court, arguing that claims against the trawler are unsubstantiated.

Vadim Sokolov, a senior official from the Murmansk administration, said Norway was trying to put pressure on Russia prior to a session of a bilateral fisheries commission due in October.

The most dramatic episode in the Russian-Norwegian dispute over fishery rights unfolded in October 2005, when the Norwegian Coast Guard service pursued Russia's Elektron trawler across the Barents Sea for five days.

The vessel refused to follow Norwegian orders to go to a port to be checked for alleged fishing violations and fled into Russian waters with two Norwegian inspectors on board.

Russian officials consistently claim that under a 1920 agreement signed by 48 countries, including Russia, they have equal fishing rights near the Spitsbergen Archipelago.

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