Pretoria: 01 July 2016
A media statement on the release of three Chinese fishing trawlers detained in South Africa a month ago.
UPDATE ON THE THREE CHINESE VESSELS THAT WERE DETAINED AT THE EAST LONDON PORT
Issued by DAFF, SANDF and SAMSA
30 JUNE 2016
In May 2016 the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) joined forces with the South African Navy to conduct sea patrol within the South African coastline; where a Fishery Control Officer was deployed on board the South African Navy vessel.
That joint operation resulted in capturing of three foreign vessels which were instructed to call to East London Port. The vessels arrived at the Port at the night of 22 May 2016 accompanied by the DAFF vessel Sarah Baartman and the SA Navy vessel SAS Drakensberg. A thorough inspection was done on all three vessels by all law enforcement agencies in East London; South African Police Services, SARS Customs, Department of Home Affairs (Immigration), South African Maritime Safety Authority.
The foreign fishing vessels were found to have the following tons of fish on board:
- Fu Yuan Yu 7880 about 340 tons of squid with 36 crew
- Fu Yang Yu 7881 1about 60 tons of squid with 34 crew
- Run Da 617 about 200 tons of squid and other species of fish with 26 crew
Further investigations were conducted to establish, amongst other things, whether the fish on board was fished in South African waters and the outcomes of the scientific tests showed that it was not fished in our waters. We therefore had no legal grounds to confiscate the fish as it was not fished in our waters.
CHARGES AND COURT OUTCOMES
CAS dockets were opened and registered with the South African police Service and the Vessel Masters were respectively charged for contravention of Marine Living Resources Act 18 of 1998 and the charges included:-
- Possession of Gear on board without a Gear Permit.
- Not complying with the Lawful Instruction from the Fishery Control Officer.
On 15 June 2016 all the three Vessel Masters appeared in East London Magistrate Court and they were found guilty for possessing Gear on board without gear permit and were consequently fined R600 000 in total for that offense.
The vessel master of Fu Yuan Yu 7880 and the Vessel Master of Fu Yang Yu 7881 1 were also found guilty of non-compliance with the Lawful Instruction of the Fishery Control Officer and were fined R50 000 each.
Additional to contravening Marine Living Resources Act, the three vessels’ masters were also found to have contravened SAMSA legislation and were consequently fined R1.3 million in total. The SAMSA legislation related charges involved determined threats of environmental pollution and degradation.
The capturing of these vessels indicates our seriousness as a country to protect our Marine Living Resources in our territorial and exclusive economic zone.
Plundering of those resources will not be tolerated. In addition, South Africa takes seriously with determination its responsibility to ensure compliance with international and domestic environmental and safety laws designed and implemented to ensure a healthy and safe environment for all users of our oceans.
The vessels’ Masters paid all the fines and they were authorised to proceed with their voyage to China and they departed from East London Port on 23 June 2016.
For More information contact:-
Ms Bomikazi Molapo
Ministers Spokesperson (DAFF)
079 698 2114
Mr Siphiwe Dlamini
South African Defence Force
Head of Communication
083 645 4294
Mr Sicelo Fayo
082 384 0945