Six vessels detained, fined and escorted out of South African waters
SIX CHINESE fishing trawlers were detained and issued with fines after they had entered South African waters illegally without the required permission, the Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries said.
The trawlers were detected entering the South African Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the Northern Cape coast on April 3, after being ordered out of Namibian waters by the Namibian authorities, the department said in a statement on Sunday.
“The fisheries patrol vessel, the Sarah Baartman, later intercepted the vessels (trawlers) off the Western Cape coast and ordered them to the outer anchorage of the Port of Cape Town. Following the interception of the vessels on April 7, the Chinese Embassy submitted a diplomatic note requesting permission for the vessels to shelter in Cape Town from adverse weather conditions.
“The vessels were then boarded by an integrated Operation Phakisa Initiative Five team and inspected. No fish were found aboard and all fishing gear was stored as per the Marine Living Resources Act. All the vessels were subsequently fined for entering South African waters without permission,” the department said.
Once the fines had been paid, the six trawlers were released and monitored as they transited South African waters.
While off Port Elizabeth, the vessels requested permission to shelter in Algoa Bay from adverse weather conditions. The request was approved by the South African Maritime Safety Authority. After departing Algoa Bay, the vessels sailed up the coast and left South African waters late on April 19 and early on the morning of April 20. There was no evidence of illegal activity while in South African waters, the department said.
During the Covid-19 national lockdown period, integrated teams have been deployed under Operation Phakisa along the coast to support the national effort to protect South Africa’s marine resources – along the coastline as well as out at sea.
The team, which included law enforcement officials, was checking for infringements related to the Marine Living Resources Act, the Road Traffic Act, non-compliance with Covid-19 Disaster Management Act regulations, and other criminal activity in general.
Members of the public are encouraged to contact the environmental crimes and incidents 24-hour hotline on 0800 205 005 to report any illegal environmental activities, including suspicious activity along the coastline, the department said in the statement.
– African News Agency (ANA)