January 5, 2018
The STA reports that following what was said to be a reassuring meeting with Croatian government officials on Thursday, two Croatian fishing boats, accompanied by six patrol boats, entered Slovenian waters on Friday despite risking being fined by Slovenian authorities.
The incident - each Croatian police boat crossing of the sea border as set down last June via international arbitration is treated as such - has been confirmed by the Slovenian police.
While no clash occurred, a Croatian reporter who was onboard one of the boats said, according to Croatian media, that at least one Croatian vessel was filmed by Slovenian police and warned it was in Slovenian waters.
The reports come after Slovenian authorities started fining Croatian fishermen catching fish in Slovenian waters as of 30 December, the deadline for preparations to implement the border arbitration decision which Croatia refuses to acknowledge.
Faced with the risk of not being able to enter Slovenia in case they refuse to pay the fines, Croatian fishermen seemed discouraged against venturing into Slovenian waters, with only one doing so on Wednesday.
But they held talks with representatives of several Croatian ministries on Thursday, coming out of the meeting reassured they would not have to pay any fines despite not having obtained the permits needed to fish legally in what the attribution tribunal said are Slovenian waters.
While the fishermen revealed no details, the Slovenian Interior Ministry confirmed on Thursday that Slovenian police have started treating Croatian vessels on 30 December in line with the provisions of the foreigners act.
The fine for illegal entry into Slovenian waters stands between EUR 500 and EUR 1,200, while fishermen fishing illegally or denying access to inspectors are even looking at fines of up to EUR 41,000.
The key issue for the Croatian fishermen, many of whom have family on the Slovenian side or would like to cross Slovenia to for instance get to the fish market in Trieste, is that Slovenia can deny them entry if they refuse to pay the fines.