More arrests by seized fishing boat Eagle Star
Mar 20, 2004
Following close on the heels of an earlier arrest of a foreign fishing boat operating illegally off Mozambique waters (see Ports & Ships News dated 13 March 2004), the South African Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism (DEAT) fishing patrol vessel Eagle Star has arrested another foreign boats off Mozambique.
The latest arrests took place during the past week when first an Indonesian-registered vessel, the MFV Sin Iu Peng was detected on 11 March. After ignoring repeated requests from the Mozambique authorities to stop for boarding and inspection, an inflatable from the Eagle Star, with an armed contingent of South African and Mozambican fisheries officers attempted to board the Sin Iu Peng.
When this was denied by the action of the crew on board the Indonesian vessel, a stun grenade was thrown on board to bring home to the occupants the gravity of the matter. The boarding party was then able to go on board for inspection.
According to DEAT the Sin Iu Peng, which was registered to fish in Mozambique waters with a purse seine net only, was found to have on board kilometres of small mesh gill nets. The catch consisted mostly of King Mackerel and the hold was estimated to be approximately 60% – 70% full.
Later two more vessels were detected and on 13 March the Eagle Star steamed towards the southernmost vessel, the MFV Nong Jyl Lih, a Chinese-registered fishing boat.
As crew on board Eagle Star made repeated attempts to communicate with the vessel, the Chinese boat altered course eastwards (away from the coast) and tried to flee. Requests to stand by for boarding and inspection were ignored and two stun grenades were thrown at the deck of the fleeing vessel, which continued motoring away.
Finally one of the South African inspectors jumped from the inflatable boat onto the stern of the Nong Jyl Lih and tied a rope ladder to the stern. Three more inspectors followed on board and succeeded in stopping the vessel.
Although the Nong Jyl Lih is registered to fish in Mozambican waters using a Purse seine net, it had large mesh demersal gillnets onboard with their entire cargo consisting of sharks, mostly giant guitar fish, which are species under serious threat.
The confiscated fish from both vessels is estimated at R2m and the vessels, which are also confiscated, at R7m each.
In a statement DEAT says the successful apprehension of these vessels will send a strong deterrent signal to all potential poachers of fish stocks.
“This indicates the commitment of both South Africa and Mozambique to enforce compliance with their respective marine laws and to protect fish stocks. This joint exercise is the first of many intended such exercises with Mozambique and other SADC (Southern African Development Community) coastal states. The enforcement exercise also offered the South African crew a valuable opportunity to further develop their skills during such exercises.”
The Eagle Star, which was forfeited to the state as a result of illegal fishing by a Hout Bay company in 2001, had been on a joint enforcement exercise with Mozambican officials as part of a monitoring, control and surveillance programme managed by SADC.