Six Cape fishing vessels seized

Sep 26, 2003
Author: P&S

The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) seized six fishing vessels earlier today (26 September 2003) for allegedly catching West Coast rock lobster in breech of their permit conditions. The vessels were tracked by the Department's sophisticated vessel monitoring system, which is a successful tool used in fisheries management and to combat illegal fishing.

Three of the seized vessels, Southern Horison, Steenbras Dam and Bloudam belong to Premier Fishing, one of Cape Town's biggest fishing companies. The other three vessels are the Wilmag, Alistair and Jenny Ann, which fish for various other rights holders.

The vessels are alleged to have fished in a prohibited area off Cape Hangklip in shallow waters where the female rock lobsters are in berry, or carrying eggs. At this time of the year the rock lobsters are at their most vulnerable and breed in shallow waters.

Mr Horst Kleinschmidt, head of the Department's Marine and Coastal Management branch said the Department is committed to taking strong action to protect and manage South Africa's valuable fish stocks.

"I want to make it clear that we won't tolerate any transgressions, whether committed by big or small companies", he said.

Late this afternoon the Simonís Town Court ordered that the Steenbras Dam vessel be released after the owners put up R3.5 million security.

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