France summons captain of seized British fishing boat to court as UK warns ‘two can play that game’

This article is over 3 months old French court summons crew of trawler dragged to port by French authorities following whaling bust France summons captain of seized British fishing boat to court as UK…

France summons captain of seized British fishing boat to court as UK warns 'two can play that game'

This article is over 3 months old

French court summons crew of trawler dragged to port by French authorities following whaling bust

France summons captain of seized British fishing boat to court as UK warns ‘two can play that game’

The captain of a British fishing boat taken by French authorities after landing a Japanese whaling shipment has been summoned to appear in court.

French customs officials seized the Hooker this month after recovering 53 minke whales from an ice-covered 200km (124 mile) stretch of Russian ice.

With the whales considered protected under international convention, Japan vifed the incident in a letter to the French court on Monday.

The Hooker caught the creatures while it tried to complete an annual round of trips to Antarctica, the Japanese coastguard said.

Dani Festel of Australia Institute for Market Economics said of the French court summons for the captain: “We have no knowledge as to what a sovereign member of the UN thinks is right and wrong, but they’re being treated with great equanimity.”

The French court has not yet issued a ruling, and that in itself has not been the end of the legal route for the UK boat.

A Japanese court decided in October not to extradite crew members involved in the 2009 whaling bust.

Argentina last year charged the crew of another British fishing boat, for illegally channelling 90kg (198lb) of catch to the Japanese whaling fleet.

The crew face a fine of up to €50,000 (£45,000) for breaching regulations.

The Japanese whaling fleet bought a government-owned Russian icebreaker, the Mako, and agreed to share the costs in the deal in 2011.

The ship, with two pilots, landed at the island of Terra Nova, 600km (370 miles) south of the Antarctic coast, with two permits, although it is now not clear which permits it used in the bust.

With the crew soon leaving the ice, a fishing trawler which started the round of trips spotted the Mako crossing the ice.

Last year, the British crew of the independent, 51-foot (16m) fishing vessel, Anne Pritchard, became the first crew in British waters to be prosecuted for illegal Antarctic whaling after they picked up a shipment of minke whales from Japan.

The boat was bailed out of court and prosecuted only by a high court ruling.

In December, the US supreme court refused to hear their appeal in a case that testifies to the controversial legal territory they wrestle with over whale hunting.

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