Illegal fishing vessel arrested

Jun 28, 2004
Author: P&S

Later this year South Africa takes possession of its first of four sea fishery patrol vessels from the builder in Romania. The other three are being built in Cape Town and all are due for delivery during 2004 and 2005, but in the meantime South Africa has to rely on ageing ex-fishing vessels to patrol local waters.

This leaves the productive fishing grounds surrounding the Prince Edward Island group, which includes Marion Island, largely unprotected, until the new offshore patrol boat Sarah Baartman comes into service (see details of this and other patrol boats elsewhere in this News column).

However, assistance is occasionally available from other countries who already patrol their own economic exclusion zones (EEZ) across the vast Southern Ocean, and this was borne out recently when a French sea patrol unit moved through South African fishing waters near Marion Island.

After becoming suspicious of certain foreign-operated fishing vessels operating in the area, the French ships took South African fishery compliance officials on board and undertook a sweep of South Africa’s EEZ surrounding the islands, which lie 2 300km southeast of Cape Town. After inspecting these waters the patrol moved into French EEZ waters where they spotted an illegal fishing vessel operating on the border of the French and Australian economic fishing zone.

This vessel, named Apatche but with an unknown registration, carried no permits to fish in the area and initially refused to stop for inspection of the catch. However a few shots across the bow made the seriousness of the matter more clear and the vessel was taken in tow last Friday (June 25) and is now on the way to Reunion for further investigation.

For details and story of South Africa’s annexation of Marion and Prince Edward Islands go to the Did You Know column of Ports & Ships and scroll down to the Marion and Prince Edward Island story.

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