Tanzania: foreign captain to be judged for illegal fishing
On March 8 2009, Hsu Chin Tai, captain of the fishing vessel MV TAWARIQ and Zhao Hanquing and Hsu Sheng Pao, both ship’s agents were arrested for fishing illegally in Tanzania’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Three years later the High Court announced the pronouncement of the judgment.
In July 2008 the responsible Southern African Development Community (SADC) ministers came together in Namibia’s Windhoek to discuss the region’s fishing policies particularly in the countries’ waters in the Indian Ocean. While fishing grounds are very species rich and could contribute a lot to the countries’ food supply, the national waters are often stricken by illegal operating foreign fishing fleets. As other countries such as West African nations, the SADC states face increasing activity of these trawlers. Every year the countries’ economies lose fish worth several million US$. In many cases the fishing vessels fish illegally in the countries’ EEZ, flying so-called flags of convenience. 2009, Tanzania’s Minister for Livestock Development and Fisheries John Magufuli said:
We are tired of illegal fishing done by these nations they have been stealing our marine resources for the past 50 years that is why fisheries sector contribute only 1.6 percent in the GDP.
In Windhoek the ministers agreed on the launch of joint patrol operations in the African waters in the Indian Ocean. Beside South Africa, Mozambique and Kenya, Tanzania joined hands in 2008 to tackle Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported Fishing (IUU-Fishing).
The MV TAWARIQO fell victim to such a joint naval patrol. On March 8 2009, it was stopped off the Tanzanian coast, operating illegally in the country’s EEZ. On board, the patrol confiscated 196 tons of fish, caught illegally. Three years later, five of the originally accused 36 crew members are still under arrest in Tanzania. But now the High Court announced to decide the illegal fishing case.
While the captain, the ship’s agents and engineers face the charge, their vessel is in alarming conditions. It is in danger of sinking sooner or later.