Fishing patrol ship makes waves

27 March 2009

South Africa’s environmental protection ship, the Sarah Baartman, returned to Cape Town on Thursday after a patrol in South African, Tanzanian, Mozambican and Kenyan waters during which 41 fishing vessels were inspected and six arrested – one of them forcefully.

The 31-day patrol covered more than 7 200 nautical miles – roughly the distance from Cape Town to Helsinki, Finland plus a further 3 500 kilometres.

The 11 inspectors on board the Sarah Baartman included two each from Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya. Inspections involved examining fishing gear, catches, log books, licences and permits aboard the fishing vessels.

According to South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, the Sarah Baartman arrested two South African hake handline vessels approximately 30 nautical miles off Mossel Bay in the Western Cape for inadequate documentation.

Off Mozambique, another hake handline vessel was arrested for a lack of documentation, while a prawn fishing vessel was arrested for fishing in a restricted zone – despite hostility and resistance from the crew of the vessel.

Inspectors from the Sarah Baartman forcefully boarded and took control of the vessel before escorting it to the Port of Angoche in Mozambique, the department said.

In Tanzania, the Sarah Baartman found more than 290 tons of blue fin tuna on board a vessel without any permit or licence. The vessel and crew were arrested, and all the fish was confiscated by the Tanzanian authorities.

The incident drew widespread recognition in Tanzania, with Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete praising the inspectors and crew of the Sarah Baartman for their work in fighting illegal fishing in Tanzanian waters.

On the way back to South Africa, off the coast from Durban, a Spanish fishing vessel was arrested and fined R300 000 for being in South African waters without a valid permit. The vessel was detained and will be released upon payment of the fine.

In addition to the inspections and arrests, a vigorous technical, operational and legal training programme was conducted during the patrol.

Source: BuaNews