Senegal's navy has boarded and seized a Russian-flagged ship suspected of fishing illegally in the country's waters, reportedly escorting it to a military base near the capital, Dakar.
Senegal's military said on January 5 that the ship, the "Oleg Naidenov," was boarded after it was observed illegally fishing in Senegalese waters near the border with Guinea Bissau.
Russian news agency reported that the ship had 62 Russians and 20 citizens of Guinea Bissau aboard.
A spokesman for Russian state fishing company Rosrybolovstvo called it a "brash armed attack against the Russian fishing trawler."
Senegalese Fisheries Minister Haidar El Ali described the trawler as a "repeat offender."
The environmental group Greenpeace included the "Oleg Naidenov" on a blacklist of poaching vessels in West African seas.
Two years ago, Greenpeace activists painted the words "pillage!" and "plunder!" on the side of the "Oleg Naidenov's" hull after they discovered it fishing illegally -- with canvas covering its identifying markings -- in Senegalese waters.
The Russian Embassy in Senegal initially said it had not received any information about the detention of the trawler, which belongs to the company Feniks, registered in Murmansk, northern Russia.
A spokesman for Rosrybolovstvo, Aleksandr Savelyev, said: "We have not been provided with any sensible explanation from Senegalese authorities about the reasons behind this brash armed attack against the Russian fishing trawler. The crew -- both Russian and Guinea Bissau citizens -- is currently being held by [the Senegalese\ military police onboard the trawler that is moored at a [marine\ military base in Dakar. Russian fishing company Rosrybolovstvo representatives are trying to get through to them."
Yury Parshev, the executive director of the company that reportedly owns the "Oleg Naidenov," told Rossiya 24 TV that the seizure "is an attempt to squeeze out our flag and our fleet from this region of the world ocean among others -- plain and simple. We have been present there before and we have always worked in these territories."
Senegal has long battled unauthorized fishing by foreign trawlers in its waters.
In its blacklisting, Greenpeace noted that "[t\he 120 meter-long 'Oleg Naydenov' is one example of the enormous foreign fleet of foreign trawlers operating in West Africa’s waters."