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T&T fishing boat seized in Venezuela
The Venezuelan Navy has intercepted a fishing vessel from T&T, Venezuelan newspaper El Universal reported yesterday.
Up to Tuesday evening, however, officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had not been able to confirm the identities of the T&T nationals or where they were being detained.
News of the detention came via a Twitter post on Monday from general Vladimir Padrino López, chief of the Strategic Operational Command of the National Armed Forces.
His post read: “Sovereignty shall be respected. A Trinidadian vessel was intercepted carrying out fishing operations in the Exclusive Economic Zone without authorisation. (The vessel has been) escorted to Carúpano.” His tweet gave no further details on the size of the vessel or the status of the crew. Carúpano is a city in Sucre state, north-east Venezuela.
Officials at the Foreign Ministry had not responded to an e-mail seeking more information on the incident up to last evening.
T&T Coast Guard officials also indicated they had no reports of the incident.
However, the Guardian was informed the vessel belongs to a Tobago-based company and the captain and crew have maintained they were in T&T waters.
The incident occurred two days before Guyana and Venezuela are scheduled to meet in T&T to discuss a second, unrelated maritime border incident which occurred off the Venezuelan coast last week.
On Thursday, Teknik Perdana, a 285-foot, US-chartered oil exploration ship hired by Guyana and flying under a Panamanian flag, was intercepted by the Venezuelan Navy and sailed to Margarita Island. The ship’s captain has been charged and released, pending trial. Guyana’s government said the crew was well within Guyana’s territorial waters, but Venezuelan officials said the ship crossed their maritime boundary.
Guyana’s government on Saturday requested a meeting with Venezuelan officials to discuss the seizure, which its foreign ministry earlier called an “unprecedented” act in Guyana-Venezuela relations. The Venezuelan Foreign Office later announced that its Foreign Minister, Elías Jaua, and his Guyanese counterpart, Carolyn Rodrigues, are to meet in Port-of-Spain tomorrow.