The maritime security component of the Department of Environment Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) notched up a major protection success earlier this month when six Chinese fishing trawlers were fined after illegally entering South African waters.
DEFF announced the success via a statement which did not give details of the fine amount or name the foreign fishing trawlers.
“The trawlers were detected entering the South African exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the Northern Cape coast on 3 April after being ordered out of Namibian waters by Namibian authorities.
“Fisheries patrol vessel, Sarah Baartman, later intercepted the vessels off the Western Cape coast and ordered them to the Port of Cape Town outer anchorage. Following the interception of the vessels on 7 April the Chinese Embassy submitted a Diplomatic Note requesting permission for the vessels to shelter from adverse weather conditions in Cape Town,” the statement reads.
Once at anchor, all six trawlers were boarded by an integrated team, assembled in terms of the maritime security component of Operation Phakisa, and thoroughly inspected.
According to the statement: “No fish were found on any of the vessels and all fishing gear was stored as required by the Marine Living Resources Act. All vessels were subsequently fined for entering South African waters without permission”.
With the unspecified fines paid, the trawlers were released and monitored for the duration of their transit through South African waters.
Off Port Elizabeth the trawlers again sought permission to shelter in Algoa Bay, also known as Nelson Mandela Bay, from inclement weather. The request was granted by the SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). The foreign registered vessels exited the Eastern Cape port proceeding up the coast and exiting South African waters on 19 April.
“There was no evidence of illegal activity while in South African waters on the east coast of the country,” the statement said.