Securities paid, boats released
Two fishing vessels have been released from Port Elizabeth Harbour on a total R400,000 security after being charged with illegally fishing in a marine protected area.
Frances Craigie, the chair of Operation Phakisa’s Initiative Five on integrated law enforcement, said on Friday the captain of the tuna long-liner Prins Willem I – who has not been named at this stage – faced multiple charges.
“[He] has been charged with fishing without a permit and failing to operate his vessel monitoring system. He faces further charges of fishing in a marine protected area.”
The catch of the Prins Willem I was confiscated after it was detained in Port Elizabeth Harbour on May 4 but it was found there were no irregularities with the catch, Craigie said.
“There were no undersize fish and no prohibited species. The skipper of the vessel paid a security of R250,000 and the catch was released.”
The Marine Living Resources Act allowed for security and the money was paid into the Marine Living Resources Fund of the fisheries department.
“If the suspect is found not guilty, the money is paid back. This option would not be used for species under threat such as perlemoen or rock lobster.”
The authorities swooped on the Prins Willem I when it docked in Port Elizabeth Harbour on May 4 after surveillance indicated it was illegally fishing in the Amathole Marine Protected Area off East London.
The action followed an alert from Border Deep Sea Angling Association environmental officer John Rance who spotted the vessel on April 21 moving suspiciously slowly – indicating that they were fishing – in the Kei-Nyara section of the protected area, off the Kei mouth.
Closer scrutiny indicated fish were being gutted on deck and fishing gear was not stowed, as was legally required in a marine protected area.
When it docked in Port Elizabeth the vessel was inspected by the South African Maritime Safety Authority, which found it to be unseaworthy.The principal officer at the authority, Captain Neville Noble, said on Wednesday the vessel was still in the harbour while the crew worked to rectify the unseaworthy aspects.Craigie said the Phakisa team had also swooped on the White Rose, which was detected in the De Hoop Marine Protected Area off the Cape south coast soon after the incident with the Prins Willem I.It was not detained but was investigated when it arrived in Port Elizabeth on May 15.“The skipper of the White Rose, who cannot be named at this stage, has been charged with fishing in a marine protected area. There were no irregularities with the confiscated catch so it was released and security of R150,000 was paid.”Craigie said Operation Phakisa’s co-ordinated enforcement and compliance programme would continue to react on receipt of information.“Collaboration between Operation Phakisa and the public will enable us to monitor, pursue and prosecute transgressions within our marine protected areas – which is one of our critical target areas.”