The Royal Navy seized a Danish fishing trawler inside Britain's coastal waters today, leading the captain to port where he was charged--to his evident delight--with violating new restrictions on gathering sprats.
"I'm very happy with the way things have turned out," said Captain Kent Kirk over a radio phone as he headed for the coastal town of North Shields. Kirk's 140-ton vessel, Sand Kirk, was boarded by British officers of the HMS Dunbarton Castle who charged that he had violated the law and then joined the captain for lunch on the way to port.
So giddy was the affair--despite the near gale force winds--that the point of Kirk's protest was all but obscured. He was dramatizing Danish fishermen's objections to regulations on fishing that have been adopted by every member of the European Community but Denmark.
The regulations, which took effect New Year's Day, apportion the amount of fish that may be caught in coastal waters off Europe. Talks on the issue have been in progress for years. To reconcile Danish demands for a larger quota, West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, acting for the Community, held talks today with Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Elleman-Jensen on a compromise solution.
Kirk, who in addition to being a captain is a member of the European Parliament, hopes that he can use the charges against him as a test of the new regulations. The maximum penalty is $80,000 and confiscation of all Kirk's fishing gear.
But there may be a complication in court. While Kirk was unquestionably inside Britain's 12-mile coastal zone, he was picked up so fast that his nets were empty.