Fines totalling R1.3 million have been paid by three foreign fishing trawlers impounded after being interdicted on the high seas by a South African task force comprising the SA Navy, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the SA Police Service.
The ships were escorted into East London harbour late in May as part of what the DAFF said was “South Africa’s seriousness to protect marine living resources in the country’s territorial and exclusive economic zone”.
SAS Drakensberg, the SA Navy supply and replenishment vessel, led the interdiction.
“South Africa takes seriously and with determinations its responsibility to ensure compliance with international and domestic environmental and safety laws designed and implemented to ensure a healthy and safe environment for all users of our oceans,” Bomikazi Molapo of the DAFF Ministry said.
The vessels had more than 600 tons of squid (chokka) aboard but this could not be confiscated as scientific tests showed the protein source had not been fished in South African territorial waters.
Dockets were opened and registered with the police and the vessel masters were charged with contraventions in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act.
All appeared in the East London Magistrate’s Court and were fined R600 000 for possessing gear without a permit for it, R50 000 for non-compliance with the lawful instruction of a fishery control officer and various contraventions of SAMSA (SA Maritime Safety Authority) legislation. These involved threats of environmental pollution and degradation.
After payment of the fines the vessel masters were authorised to proceed with their voyage to China, Molapo added.