Russia Releases Detained Estonian Fishing Boat Captain

The captain of the Roxen, a Finnish fishing boat with an Estonian crew detained in the Baltic Sea in May by the Border Service of Russia for illegal fishing, has been released, his attorney Igor Voskoboinik told Interfax on Tuesday.

“Investigative authorities lifted the preventive measure for non-departure from the country in the criminal case concerning illegal fishing,” Voskoboinik said. “The captain of the vessel, Estonian citizen Rezo Kimmel, can leave Russia, but must return to Kaliningrad for court hearings.” The next hearings will take place in August.

The Prosecutor’s Office of Kaliningrad Oblast handed Kimmel a 50 million ruble (approximately $788,000) civil action for illegal fishing, the press service of the agency said on Friday.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the Roxen had caught 7.5 tons of fish without a fishing license before being detained, causing approximately 50 million rubles in damages to Russia’s biological resources. The sales value of 7.5 tons of fish is around $1,700.

On May 10, Russian border officials detained the Roxen, which was sailing under the Finnish flag but with an Estonian crew, accusing the crew of fishing in Russia’s economic waters without a permit.

According to the Border Service of Russia, the Roxen was intentionally fishing in the Russian economic zone.

Kimmel, however, has denied doing so, stating that they were fishing in the Russian zone accidentally as the vessel’s navigation device was broken. The fishing boat captain noted that the trawl net had been let down in international waters, and the vessel’s equipment did not indicate that they had entered Russia’s economic waters during trawling.

Following the posting of $788,000 bail for potential damage to Russian fish resources, the Roxen and three members of its crew were released on June 25. The captain of the vessel, however, was ordered by the court to be detained in a hotel.