The Mozambican Defence Ministry has accepted the seized fishing vessel Antillas Reefer into service and will use it as a fishing monitoring and inspection vessel.
The vessel was handed over to the Defence Ministry on Monday by the Mozambican Ministry of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries, AIM reports.
The Antilles Reefer was flying the Namibian flag but had a largely Spanish crew when she was seized by Mozambican authorities in July for illegally fishing in Mozambican waters. She had 43 tonnes of shark, 4 tonnes of shark fins, 1.8 tonnes of shark tails, 11.3 tons of shark liver and 20 tonnes of shark oils on board.
The owners of the vessel, Ompala Fishing (a joint venture between Mabenal SA, owned by Spain’s Vidal Amadores, and Namibia’s Gongala Fishing), were fined $4.5 million but the fine was never paid and in 2009 the Mozambique state took possession of the vessel.
With funding from Norway, the Antillas Reefer was converted into a fisheries inspection vessel by a shipyard in Durban. The 13 month long, $1.6 million transformation was completed by July 2011.
Previously operated by the Fisheries Ministry, Mozambican authorities decided to transfer the vessel to the Defence Ministry.
Fisheries Minister Agostinho Mondlane said on Monday that, “we are transferring this boat due to the multidisciplinary nature of integrated inspection of maritime activities to be undertaken on a coordinated and joint basis. The Antilles Reefer is a fundamental resource for inspection activities for both sectors”.
In March this year Mozambique announced it had seized the fishing vessel Nessa 7, which is also set to become a fisheries patrol vessel.