Is Cape Town a poachers ‘home from home’?

Aug 21, 2003
Author: P&S

Another long line fishing vessel accused of poaching in territorial waters, the Maral, which was seen fishing illegally in St Helena waters, sailed from Cape Town on Monday, 18 August 2003 after calling for supplies and possibly offloading its haul, some of which at least had been poached.

Maral was caught red-handed and photographed fishing on the Bonaparte seamount 80 nautical miles north of St Helena, but the intercepting vessel lacked the ability to make an arrest.

According to a report in the St Helena Herald, the Spanish captain of the Maral admitted he had been fishing for swordfish and when advised that this was illegal said he didn’t want any trouble and would leave immediately. The Maral is reported to be fishing its way across the Atlantic towards Montevideo in Uruguay.

The St Helena Police Service and Fisheries Directorate is conducting an investigation into the incident. The penalty for illegal fishing in St Helena waters is a fine of up to one million pounds.

The St Helena fishing vessel that made the interception maintained radar contact with two other unidentified vessels within 20 miles of its own position. These are believed to have been fishing because of their slow, steady movement.

Interception of ships fishing illegally off St Helena is difficult because the island has no navy or official patrol vessels, nor an airport from which to fly patrols.

You can read the original report and see the photograph of Maral on the St Helena Herald website at

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