Moosa slams illegal fishing

Mar 26, 2003
Author: DEAT

The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mohammed Valli Moosa has reiterated government's commitment to rigorously fight illegal fishing, root out illegal Patagonian Toothfish trade and protect the country's marine resources. His statement follows the seizure of over 200 tons of Patagonian Toothfish, valued at approximately R20 million, from the Cape Town harbour late yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, 25 March 2003).

A consignment of nine containers of Patagonian tooth fish were off loaded at Cape Town Harbour after being allegedly discharged from a Uruguayan registered fishing vessel, the Lugal Pesca, in Walvis Bay harbour, Namibia and loaded onto a container vessel bound for Cape Town, where it arrived on 20 March 2003.

"Our commitment in protecting our nations valuable marine assets becomes fundamentally important as we are broadening access to these resources in our battle to fight poverty. The conservation of these resources, and ensuring the sustainable harvesting thereof, is critical. We will have no tolerance for those who disregard and undermine our efforts to do so," Minister Moosa said.

The Patagonian Toothfish is a species under increased pressure from illegal harvesting and trade and is protected under the Marine Living Resources Act. South Africa is a member state of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Resources, and has obligations to monitor and protect the exploitation of Patagonian Toothfish. The Convention is aimed at ensuring legal fishing trade on the world market.

"As a nation that is part of a global fishing community and takes our international obligations very seriously, we will not hesitate to take the strongest possible action against those seeking to illegally plunder our valuable resources. Illegal fishing of foreign vessels in our waters is not going to be tolerated," said Moosa.

It is believed that the nine containers of Patagonian tooth fish were due for onward carriage to Singapore from where the consignment was destined for China, Hong Kong and Los Angeles. The matter is subject to further investigation.

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