The Venezuelan Navy has intercepted a fishing vessel from Trinidad and Tobago, El Universal has reported.
“Sovereignty shall be respected. A Trinidadian vessel was intercepted carrying out fishing operations in the Exclusive Economic Zone without authorization. The vessel has been escorted to Carúpano,” General Vladimir Padrino López, chief of the Strategic Operational Command of the National Armed Forces (Ceofan) posted
on Twitter at 11.33 pm on October 14. (My own translation.)
La soberanía se respeta. Interceptado buque bandera trinitaria, fachada atlántica, faena pesca ZEE sin autorización. Escoltado a Carupano.
— Vladimir Padrino (@vladimirpadrino) October 15, 2013
He did not give further details on the crew on board the intercepted vessel. Carúpano is a Sucre state, northeast Venezuela.
This incident arises just two days before Guyana and Venezuela are scheduled to meet in Trinidad and Tobago to discuss a second, unrelated incident which occurred last week. On Thursday, Teknik Perdana, a 285-foot, U.S.-chartered oil exploration ship hired by Guyana and flying under a Panamanian flag, was intercepted by the Venezuelan Navy and sailed to Margarita Island.
Guyana’s government said the crew was well within Guyana’s territorial waters. Venezuelan officials said the ship entered the Venezuela’s territorial waters.
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 announced that its Foreign Minister Elías Jaua and his Guyanese counterpart Carolyn Rodrigues are to meet in Port-of-Spain for talks on October 17.
It is the latest incident in a longstanding border dispute between the South American neighbours. The coast of Esequiba, where the incident occurred, is a border region rich in natural resources that Venezuela has claimed since 1897. In late August, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his Guyanese counterpart, Donald Ramotar, said that they were moving to resolve the dispute and would continue to seek help from United Nations mediators to solve the conflict, with the mediation of Professor Norman Girvan.
Teknik Perdana’s captain Igor Bekirov was charged and released on October 15, pending trial, El Universal reported. The Ukrainian captain was banned from conducting oil exploration and research activities in the Venezuelan territory.
The ship’s Malaysian owners said the vessel and all 36 crew members were also released, Al Jazeera reported. The ship’s crew also included two Britons, two Russians, a Frenchman, five Ukrainians, two Brazilians, five Malaysians and 14 Indonesians. Five US citizens were also among the crew of the ship, according to the State Department, according to AP.