Mauritian coastguard nabs Malaysian poachers

Jan 25, 2008
Author: Alain Malherbe

Port Louis, 24 January - National Coast Guard (NCG) officials on a routine operation stopped and boarded a Malaysian flag fishing vessel within the Mauritian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on Saturday (19 January).

A unit of the NCG, the CGS Guardian escorted the Malaysian-flagged f/v PUTRA JAYA 33 into Port-Louis after 30 ton of tuna, illegally fished, was discovered in the fishing vessel’s hold. The CGS was carrying out a routine patrol at the time of the arrest. On arrival in Port Louis the captain and crew were detained for further investigation, with the captain appearing in court on Monday 21 January when he was formally charged.

The Mauritius Coast Guard has instituted a programme of monitoring the EEZ, in particular to the south of the island, to discourage the plunder of Mauritian waters by foreign unlicensed fishing vessels.

A NCG surveillance plane, the Dornier is systematically used in tracking down illegal vessels furrowing this zone and the data available on the Vessel Surveillance System is treated within the framework of the Mauritius Intelligence Monitoring System. A suspicious response from the f/v Putra Jaya was noted shortly after her discovery within the EEZ of Mauritius by the crew of the Dornier.

The vessel’s master failed to respond to radio communication attempts from the aircraft and suspicions were further confirmed at NCG headquarters when it transpired that the fishing vessel had not communicated its position in the required manner on the Vessel Surveillance System, which is mandatory according to licenses allocated by the Mauritian Ministry for Fisheries and Natural Resources.

After analysis of the data relayed by Dornier, a decision was made to dispatch a joint squad of the NCG and Fisheries Protection Services to carry out a physical control operation. The CGS Guardian met the f/v Putra Jaya 33 around 13h30 on 17 January while the fishing vessel was at about 132 nautical miles east-south-east of Mauritius, at position 20°16 and 59°54 and within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the island.

Information available is that the Putra Jaya 33 sailed from Port-Louis on 24 December for a fishing campaign and was due back in port on or about 21 January.

The Master of the Malaysian vessel was unable to confirm to the NCG and to Fisheries Protection Services the origin of the 30t of tuna found in the vessel’s holds. In addition, the vessel was not in possession of any valid fishing license issued by the Mauritian Authorities.

It was consequently noted that no fishing log, no ship’s log, and no radio operator log was being maintained on board. The only document available was a notebook in Chinese language.

“During the inspection carried out in accordance to procedures specified in law, the captain of the ship could not account for the origin of the catch. The records were not accurate,” underlined one official of the Mauritian Fisheries Department.

The NCG took control of the f/v Putra Jaya on her way back to Port-Louis, under escort of the CGS Guardian. The two ships arrived in port around 16h00 on Saturday. Technically, the Master and crew of the f/v Putra Jaya were placed under arrest during the time of the investigation.



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