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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South Africa’s battle against illegal fishing given support by Norway

Norway to help set up a Fisheries Law Enforcement Academy with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

Port Elizabeth: 06 June 2016

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South Africa’s battle against illegal fishing on its oceans is to receive a further boost in Port Elizabeth today where the Norwegian government will formally sign a bilateral agreement with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) for the establishment of a Fisheries Law Enforcement Academy – to be known as a FISHFORCE.

Norwegian ambassador to South Africa Ms Trine Skymoen in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape on Monday.
Norwegian ambassador to South Africa Ms Trine Skymoen in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape on Monday.

The agreement signing later this afternoon was confirmed by Norwegian ambassador to South Africa, Ms Tine Skymoen at the start of a two day seminar at the coastal city on the establishment of a national maritime cluster for South Africa to support the Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) programme.

The seminar that began early Monday and is scheduled to end on Tuesday afternoon, involves a number of thought leaders on maritime economic development from South Africa and Norway.

The list of participants include Prof Malek Pourzanjani, CEO, South African International Maritime Institute; Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director-General, Department of Environmental Affairs; Mr Dumisani Ntuli, Department of Transport; Mr Howard Theunissen (Faculty of Engineering, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University), Dr Yona Seleti, Chief Director, Department of Science and Technology; Mr Collins Makhado (South African Maritime Safety Authority)

Also on the list are Professor Mike Morris (University of Cape Town  PRISM), Professor Justin Barnes (BMA), Mr Peter Myles (NMMC); Prof Nick Binedell (Strategy, GIBS), Mr Mthozami Xiphu of SAOGA, Mr Mike Hawes of SAAR, Ms Vanessa Davidson of MIASA, Mr Louis Gontier of AIMENA and Mr Sobantu Tilayi Acting CEO, SAMSA.

From Norway the list includes Ms Anne Lene Dale, Director for Economic and Commercial Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Ing Alf Egil Jense, (Science & Technology Counsellor, Dr Aase Kaurin (Research Council) Mr Svein Fjose, (Menon Economic), and Dr Kristin Wallevik, (Dean, University of Agder).

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Seated during the start of a two-day seminar on strategies for a national maritime sector cluster in Port Elizabeth on Monday morning are from Left: Norwergian ambassador to South Africa Ms Trine Skymoen, Prof Patrick Vrancken of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Mr Sobantu Tilayi, acting CEO of the South African Maritime Safety Authority SAMSA) and Ms Judy Beaumont, deputy director of the Department of Environmental Affairs.

With the theme of the two-day seminar at the Dolphin’s Leap Conference and Events Centre in Humewood given as  “Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy – Exploring opportunities towards a national maritime cluster”; over two days the group will share ideas and thrash out possible strategies for development of coordinated multi-stakeholder structures to help advance South Africa’s Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) programme.

In her brief remarks during the opening of the seminar, Ms Skymoen said whenever Norwegian and South African politians and officials met, the Blue Economy and Operation Phakisa were always on top of the agenda and on the basis of which much high level cooperation had developed.

IMG_0297The support to be offered South Africa through FISHFORCE, she said was deriving from this. She described the initiative with the NMMU “as a contribution towards fighting fisheries crime. “

“We will this afternoon sign a bilateral agreement with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University on support to the establishment of a Fisheries Law Enforcement Academy at NMMU, called FISHFORCE.

“Through FISHFORCE we will be able to more successfully investigate and prosecute criminals engaged in fisheries crime. This will benefit not only South Africa, but the region and eventually also beyond the continent.”

According to Ms Skymoen, 70% of the world’s surface is covered by oceans, with South Africa and Norway sharing a few commonalities in terms of their geographic positioning as largely maritime countries.

“The Oceans are a vital source of resources and wealth, but we take much less use of them than one might expect their size.

“Internationally, though, there is a growing awareness that the oceans, if managed sensible, represent immense resource wealth and offer potential for economic growth, employment innovation and food security,” she said.

She said the potential for growth was huge as according to the OECD, the blue economy could double by 2030 reaching over three trillion US dollars, with much of that growth projected in subsectors that include acquaculture, offshore wind, fish processing and shipbuilding and repairs.

“Blue economies are fundamental for Africa’s development and prosperity. Thirty nine (39) countries have a combined coastline of more than 47 000km, More than 90% of Africa’s trade is seaborne. Fishing contributes to the food security for more than 200 million Africans. Vast oil and gas potential lies off the coast. In order to unlock the potential, African countries need to develop ocean industries by advancing the role of the private sector and regional integration,” said Ms Skymoen.

Further updates to follow….

 

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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