Arrested Taiwanese fishing vessel released from South Africa

RELEASED: Taiwanese fishing vessel released by South African authorities on Tuesday after it was arrested earlier this month and on inspection by SAMSA, was found to have violated anti-pollution conventions governing management of vessels at sea.
RELEASED: Taiwanese fishing vessel released by South African authorities on Tuesday after it was arrested earlier this month and on inspection by SAMSA, was found to have violated anti-pollution conventions governing management of vessels at sea.

Cape Town:  27 September, 2016

A Taiwanese fishing vessel arrested and detained in South Africa earlier this month has been released, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confirmed on Tuesday.

SAMSA said in Cape Town on Wednesday that the vessel was released after it settled admissions of contravention imposed on it relating to violations it was found to have committed while sailing in the country’s waters on the Indian Ocean.

It had been found non-compliant with International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, (MARPOL) as there was no record in the Oil Record Book of oily waste having been landed ashore or discharged through the oily water separator, a SAMSA statement said.

The arrest of the vessel known as the Chin Jen Wen on 09 September was conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF)  after it was spotted through the department’s Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) apparently entering the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from Mossel Bay towards  Cape Town.

DAFF initially suspected that the vessel had not applied for permission to be in the area. Fisheries protection vessels including The Victoria Mxenge were then set successfully on its pursuit and arrest eventually culminating in its detention at the port of Cape Town.

While in detention under the Marine Living Resources Act, according to DAFF spokesman, Ms Bomikazi Molapo; the vessel would undergo a thorough inspection conducted by all relevant law enforcement stakeholders, including SAMSA – the country’s maritime safety authority.

SAMSA sought to ensure that it complied with all relevant international maritime conventions relevant to that type of vessel. SAMSA also used its jurisdiction as a Coastal State to ensure that the vessel was of no threat to the State from a safety and pollution perspective.

Ms Molapo said: “The Minister has undertaken to intensify the fight against any form of illegal fishing in our exclusive economic zone to ensure that our resources are utilized for the benefit of the country to reduce poverty and ensure food security for all. South African waters remain a sovereign jurisdiction and its marine living resources will be protected by the Department”.

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Arrested Taiwanese fishing trawler still in detention

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Pretoria: 12 September 2016

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is continuing with investigations of a Taiwanese fishing trawler nabbed off the southern part of the Indian Ocean and detained in Cape Town at the weekend on suspicion of illegal activity.

The arrest of the vessel known as the Chin Jen Wen; was conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) late last week after the trawler was spotted through the department’s Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) apparently entering the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from Mossel Bay towards  Cape Town.

According to DAFF, suspicion had been aroused as the vessel had not applied for permission to be in the area. Fisheries protection vessels including The Victoria Mxenge were then set successfully on its pursuit and arrest eventually culminating in its detention at the port of Cape Town.

While in detention under the Marine Living Resources Act, according to DAFF spokesman, Ms Bomikazi Molapo; the vessel would undergo a thorough inspection conducted by all relevant law enforcement stakeholders, including SAMSA – the country’s maritime safety authority.

The Taiwanese trawler is the latest to be arrested and detained by South African authorities in 2016 due to suspicion of illegal or unauthorized fishing activity on the country’s waters.

In a recent incident also off the Indian Ocean along the Eastern Cape coast, a set of Chinese fishing vessels were arrested on suspicion of illegal activity. While initially suspected of illegal fishing, owners were eventually fined for a variety of law transgressions relating to general management of the vessels.

In Pretoria on Thursday last week, Ms Molapo said: “The Minister has undertaken to intensify the fight against any form of illegal fishing in our exclusive economic zone to ensure that our resources are utilised for the benefit of the country to reduce poverty and ensure food security for all. South African waters remain a sovereign jurisdiction and its marine living resources will be protected by the Department,” she said.

In Cape Town at the weekend, the Taiwanese vessel was inspected by SAMSA to ensure that it complied with all relevant international maritime conventions relevant to that type of vessel. SAMSA also used its jurisdiction as a Coastal State to ensure that the vessel was of no threat to the State from a safety and pollution perspective.

The investigation established that the vessel was non-compliant with International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution (MARPOL) as there was no record in the Oil Record Book of oily waste having been landed ashore or discharged through the oily water separator. The vessel remains in detention pending finalization of the inspection on Tuesday.

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Three more Chinese fishing vessels arrested in South Africa

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East London: 23 May 2016

Three more Chinese fishing vessels have been arrested on South African waters after they were found to have violated laws regulating the country’s territorial waters inclusive of the its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confirmed on Monday.

The three trawlers currently berthed at the port of East London while undergoing further investigation were nabbed at the weekend off the coast of the Eastern Cape in the Indian Ocean during a joint operation with the South African Navy. Their arrest follows that of another Chinese vessel a week ago in Cape Town.

For more on this breaking story, see the DAFF and SAMSA media release earlier today

Three more Chinese fishing vessels arrested in South Africa_ Media Statement.

 

 

Fate of arrested Chinese vessel in Cape Town to be determined soon

Pretoria: 16 May 2016

An image of the Chinese vessel, Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186. Courtesy of Independent Online
An image of the Chinese vessel, Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186 arrested by South African authorities off the Eastern Cape coast at the weekend now berthed at the Cape Town harbour. (Image courtesy of Independent Online

The fate of the Chinese vessel, Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186, currently docked in Cape Town after being successfully chased and captured by South African authorities off the Eastern Cape coast at the weekend will soon be fully determined by the extent to which it violated both the country’s laws and international conventions.

The vessel is one of several – about nine – possibly from the same company believed to have entered and operated in South African waters illegally about a week ago.

On Monday (May 16) the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confirmed that it had begun investigations of the vessel relating to its conduct in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Captains Karl Otto and Gustav Louw confirmed that SAMSA surveyors boarded the vessel on Monday afternoon and their findings would be shared as soon as they were available.

According to SAMSA, the investigation is looking precisely into the vessel’s seaworthiness inclusive of its condition, its operation certificates as well as those of the crew, the vessel’s manning conditions, as well as its general conduct in South African waters involving its radio availability and responsiveness to South African authorities.

A SAMSA team set out early Monday to investigate the vessel and to make a determination of its overall condition and conduct.

The SAMSA ship surveyors team’s findings will add to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) investigations and findings at the weekend shortly after the cornering and arrest of the vessel in Cape Town.

Shortly after its berthing at the Cape Town harbour on Saturday, according to DAFF, rummaging was conducted on the captured vessel involving the South African Police Services (SAPS), the South African Revenue Services (SARS) as well as the Department of Home Affairs.

“There was a total of nine crew members on board,” said DAFF’s spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo, also confirming that no fish was found onboard the vessel.

She said: “The crew claimed to have been travelling to the Democratic Republic of Congo where they claim they were going to fish and claim to have the necessary permits to do so. We have also established that this fleet of nine vessels is related and belong to the same company.”

Ms Molapo said while the early investigators found no fish on board the vessel, it had however violated the country’s Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA) in that the fishing vessel entered the country’s EEZ without the authority of a valid permit.

“The vessel also contravened Section 56 (2) in that (the) Master or crew member of the fishing vessel in question, did not immediately comply with lawful instruction as given by a fishery control officer and also did not facilitate the safe boarding, entry and inspection of the fishing vessel,” she said.

Due to these violations, DAFF issued a seizure notice that will involve the vessel, its gear and equipment, stores as well as cargo.

In terms of this, the vessel will not be allowed to leave the port of Cape Town or relocate to any other berthing space within the port, unless authorized to do so by DAFF.

According to DAFF, SARS had also fined the vessel R8 000 for tobacco and cigarette related charges. SAPS was also following up and investigating a case involving the keeping of dogs in the vessel.

Meanwhile, Ms Molapo confirmed that an alert had been issued to neighboring countries, Namibia and Mozambique to be on the look for the rest of the vessels that have since disappeared. “DAFF has notified and registered an intention to get all the nine vessels red flagged with regional fisheries management organizations,” she said.
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FISH POACHING AT SOUTH AFRICAN OCEANS REACHING ‘CRISIS’ PROPORTIONS!

Fishing sector researchers sound the alarm about popular fish species in South Africa’s seas being ‘poached’ to extinction, and call for general public involvement.

dusky kobBy the time there are only about half-a-dozen rhinos and perhaps only three elephants left in South Africa’s wild, all due to rampant and incessant poaching; there may also be no more edible fish left in the country’s oceans, such is an apparent massive scale of poaching also of popular fish species along the country’s coastline, according to two researchers.

Front page of the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of the Ski-Boat magazine
Front page of the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of the Ski-Boat magazine

Professor Nadine A. Strydom and Bruce Mann’s story of an apparent desperate plight of the country’s fish species’ rapid decimation is carried in the January/February 2016 edition of Ski-Boat, a bimonthly print and digital magazine published by the South African Deep Sea Angling Association.

Prof Strydom is an associate professor in the Department of Zoology at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in Port Elizabeth. She is described as a specialist in the ecology of and early life history of coastal fish.

Mr Mann is a fish biologist based at the Oceanographic Research Institute in Durban. He is said to be a specialist in the stock status, biology and ecology  of linefish and marine protected areas.

A collaborator and contributor in the report is Mr Edward Turner, a sportfishing journalist involved in tourism development.

According to their report, an increasingly popular question in the South Africa fishing sector is: “Where have all the fish gone?”

Their alarm bell comes in the same period as the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is in the process of finalizing the receiving of application forms and issuance of related policy documents, beginning February 1, 2016; for Fishing Rights Allocation for the 2015/16 period.

The researchers’ report also coincides with the release of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Centre for Fishing’s annual fishing sector incidents report (Marine Notice No.1 of 2016) and which, summarily; paints an apparently encouraging picture in terms of gradually yet consistent reducing rates of deaths of fishermen through accidents and related in the country’s seas over the last decade or so.

Meanwhile, the researchers’ report on the dire conditions facing the country’s fish stock, describes none of it as being actually a joke as, they say; of 35 popular linefish species in a 2013 study report known as the ‘Southern African Marine Linefish Species Profiles‘ and published by the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (Oceanographic Research Institute), more than half (19) of the popular linefish had ‘collapsed’, 6 (six) were over-exploited, with only 10 perceived as ‘optimally exploited.’

The researchers state: “Much media attention is placed on charismatic animals like elephants and rhinos and the anti-poaching messages are common on t-shirts and bumber stickers, but much less attention is given to the plight of our fish species.

“Many of our coastal fish species suffer a similar plight to rhino, with rampant poaching serving the greedy few while deriving (sic) other South Africans of their natural heritage. Sadly, the media hype about rhinos seems to miss other threatened species, particularly those that are hard for people to see on a daily basis,” so says the group.

Big fish, the most productive, are gone!

kobSounding a shrill alarm, the experts claim that the current favourite target for fish poachers along South Africa’s coastal waters are big-sized fish, such as a fully grown dusky kob, and the greatest tragedy is that these large fish are also incidentally, the best breeders over time. They are all almost all gone, say the researchers!

“The dusky kop is just one on a long list of fish species for which alarm bells are ringing. Populations of many popular angling fish that formed an integral part of the rock-and-surf, estuary and skiboat fisheries in the past 50 years are already collapsed off our coast,” they say.

Precisely, line fish said to be under severe threat in South African oceans over the last few years include the following in four categories:

  1. over-fished:  the Silver Kob, the Squaretail Kob, and the Geelbek;
  2. vulnerable: the Dusky Kob, the Black musselcracker, the White-edged rockcod, the Scotsman, the Soupfin shark and the Smoothhound shark,
  3. endangered: the White steenbras, the Red steenbras, the Yellowbelly rockcod, and the Red stumpnose and
  4. critically endangered: the Seventy-four and the Dageraad

Apparently, according to the researchers in their January/February 2016 report, the only refuge for many of the fish species are Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) such as the Isimingaliso, Pondolond, Tsitsikama, Goukamma and De Hoop areas along the Indian Ocean east of the country.

However, they say; even these protected areas are only currently serving to keep pressure at bay in the immediate vicinity of the protected areas, as outside them, it is chaos.

In its 5-year strategy document for the period 2015/16-2019/20 DAFF acknowledges the problem and gives a broad outline of its planned activities in the period to counter the trend.

In the document DAFF states: “Fisheries generally is a highly contested industry, both locally and globally. It is plagued by syndicated crime, over-exploitation of high-value species, corruption and poor compliance levels.

“The department, therefore, has to introduce comprehensive responses to this complex, highly technical and technologically advanced challenge by intensifying its  monitoring and compliance efforts and working in close cooperation with other law enforcement
agencies.”

prepared fish foodIn their report however, Prof Strydom and Messrs Mann and Truter, while acknowledging fully a laxity in management and enforcement of fisheries regulations as a primary factor, a lack of public awareness compounds the problem and they believe, they say, that the public should “do more than just eat fish at restaurants.”

South Africans reportedly consumed approximately 313-million tons of seafood in 2010, of which 50% was sourced within the country’s waters. Much of that seafood constituted a variety of fish species.

Illustrative chart courtesy of WWF-SASSI. For a link to the website, click on the chart.
Illustrative chart courtesy of WWF-SASSI. For a link to the website, click on the chart.

“The future of our fish resources in South Africa rests in the mouths of those of us who eat seafood – both anglers themselves and those who by their seafood at restaurants and the local fish shop. You are ultimately the end users of coastal fish in South Africa and you have a moral obligation to participate in conversation effort for our fish stocks,” they urge.

Tools to assist public’s direct involvement and engagement

To assist the greater public engagement sought, the researchers point to a dedicated digital platform known as the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) and which contains loads of information to assist especially fish dealers and consumers with knowledge about the fish they trade in or consume.

For retailers, the WWF-SASSI platform provides fish traders with information that includes guidelines to procurement of linefish from dealers operating in South Africa’s oceans.

In addition, the platform reportedly supports general members of the public by, for example: enabling people to, while seated at a restaurant, SMS the name of the fish on the menu they have ordered to a dedicated mobile number that in turn returns all the critical information known about the fish species, inclusive of its state of abundance or scarcity and some such other detail.

To encourage ease of use by the public, the platform also offers an app that can be loaded to a person’s mobile phone for purposes of accessing same information and alternatively, a downloadable booklet containing loads of knowledge about the country’s fish species and their current status.

“The demise of the dusky kob in coastal waters of South Africa is no less imminent than the threat faced by the rhino, elephant, abalone and others like them. Marine biologists are calling on all South Africans to step up and help fight the cause to ensure the sustainable use of our precious coastal fish resources,” says Prof Strydom and Messrs Mann and Truter.

Fewer deaths of fishermen on SA waters

**Meanwhile, a SAMSA report of recorded incidents of death at sea for the past 20 years (1996-2015) indicates a significant decline in the number of fishermen who die at see while at work.

Fishing Incidents timeline 96_15

Compiled by SAMSA’s Centre for Fishing, the report shows that even as the number of fishermen who died while at work at sea in 2015 more than doubled from only seven (7) in 2014 to 18 in 2015, the overall death trend reflected a significant decline particularly in the last decade from 2006 to 2015.

In the period, fishermen death numbers fell from double digit figures, sometimes as high as 57 per annum in the period from 1996 to 2005, to single digits of as low seven deaths per annum in the last decade to 2015.

The report may be obtained in three ways, from SAMSA offices at 146 Lunnon Road, Hillcrest, Pretoria; by requesting it via email (marinenotices@samsa.org.za) or downloading it via the website: http://www.samsa.org.za.

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