Captured Chinese trawlers released

Captured Chinese trawlers released

It's emerged three foreign vessels that were thought to have been fishing illegally in South African waters have since sailed out of the country after its masters were charged and fined.


The Chinese trawlers, the Fu Yuan Yu 7880, the Fu Yang Yu 7881 and the Run Da 617 were spotted in country's waters last month and subsequently escorted to East London Port by patrol vessel Sarah Baartman and the SA Navy vessel SAS Drakensberg. 

The trawlers were then detained there with a total of 96 crew from all three vessels.

The Department of Fisheries says inspections spanning about a month revealed that while squid and other species of fish were found on the boats, they had not been caught in South Africa.

As a result, the catch was not confiscated.

Departmental spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo says the three ship masters were however found guilty for the possession of gear on board without a gear permit by the East London Magistrate's Court earlier this month and were fined R600 000. 

They were also convicted of not complying with the instructions of a Fishery Control Officer and fined R50 000 for that offence.

Molapo says in addition to contravening the Marine Living Resources Act, all three masters were also found to have breached Maritime Safety laws which with threats of environmental pollution and degradation and fined.

"The R1.3 million [were] charges that were set by by SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) and different from the department, so those fines came to a total of 1.3 million. As South Africa, we take very seriously the responsibility we have in ensuring compliance with international as well as domestic environmental safety laws," she said.

The department says all three vessels left for China exactly a week ago after paying all fines imposed.

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