African governments take a swipe at illegal fishing
|© Ibon Barandika Ugarte|
During the past month March, several African governments took a swipe against fishing vessels operating illegally in their territorial waters. More and more political awareness seems to arise over the economic potentials and importance of national waters’ resources. With the help of advanced technologies and ships, governments declare war on illegal fishing operators.
After a fine was imposed on the captain and his engineer of a Taiwanese fishing trawler in Tanzania last month, Sierra Leone now also fined a French fishing vessel. The “TV Sterenn” was under arrest because it failed to communicate its entry into Sierra Leonean waters and to submit adequate catch reports. In total 320 tons of tuna with a value of approximately 650.000 US$ were confiscated on board of the “TV Sterenn”. Following a total payment of 0.7 million US$ to the government, the French vessel was finally released again.
The arrest on the 22nd of March was carried out by a Joint Maritime Committee (JMC) on board of the USS Simpson. The activities of the JMC are part of the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP). Already in 2011, the mission seized four other vessels which were operating illegally in Sierra Leonean waters. All of them were flying the South Korean flag and were fined a total of 350.000 US$. These vessels were by name the Ocean 3, Marampa 803, Yuan Yu 701 and the Puyu 6016.
Sierra Leone’s Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources stated on the last joint activities of Sierra Leonean authorities and the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy:
We are working to ensure that every fishing vessel within Sierra Leone’s waters operates in compliance with our laws. It is crucial that we protect our valuable marine resources, in order that they continue to be a source of livelihoods, food security and government revenue. We are grateful to the French government for their swift cooperation in this matter and for exercising their duties as a flag State. We are reaching out to partners in the region and beyond to ensure that we coordinate our efforts to combat IUU fishing. This sends a clear message to poachers and would be poachers that illegal fishing is not tolerated in the maritime waters of Sierra Leone.”
Mozambique and Liberia – Promising Cooperation in Fight against IUU Fisheries
A few days before the arrest of the “TV Sterenn” off the Sierra Leonean coast, another fishing vessel, the Spanish flagged “Txori Argi”, had been inspected in Mozambique’s Nacala port. The ship is owned by the Spanish company Compania Internacional de Pesca y Derivados SA (INPESCA). It was accused of not carrying its fishing license for Mozambique waters onboard and to not provide detailed information about catches within Mozambique’s EEZ. Initially the vessel had been given a fine of 1.2 million Euros.
|© Ibon Barandika Ugartetxe|
The concerning Fisheries Agreement between the EU and Mozambique partly states:
Community vessels (EU vessels) shall notify, at least three hours in advance, the competent Mozambican authorities responsible for monitoring fishing of their intention to enter or leave Mozambique’s fishing zone and declare overall quantities and species on board.”
Furthermore it has been reported of cooperative actions of Liberia and Mozambique against the Spanish vessel F/V DONIENE. The vessel was operating in Liberian waters in 2011 even after the Liberian government had not issued any fishing licenses for that period. After the TM Foundation had tracked the vessel from West African waters through to Mozambique waters in the Indian Ocean, the government of Mozambique was conducted to survey the ship’s activities and to inspect it in case it would come to a port. After the vessel arrived in the port in Nacal, Mozambique, authorities found evidence about incorrect licenses for Liberian waters and irregularities in the ship’s activities off the West African coast. After Liberian officials had been informed, further steps were initiated and Spanish officials were contacted. Spain for its part notified that it will conduct further investigations in accordance with international legal requirements.
The initiative Stop Illegal Fishing that is a component of the NEPAD’s Partnership for African Fisheries programme, stated:
The stand taken by Mozambique in carrying out the inspection in support of the investigation is a strong example of continental cooperation between two coastal countries to combat IUU fishing in Africa… This cooperation between East and West Africa, which is promoted and supported by the Partnership for African Fisheries and Stop Illegal Fishing of the NEPAD Agency, marks a significant step in demonstrating the African commitment to overcome IUU fishing.”