Posted on October 03, 2019 by Ilias Kiritsis
Four fishing vessels and 52 seafarers, including 3 foreign nationals, have been arrested in Nigeria, over suspected illegal fishing activities in the region around the Brass River.
Namely, the four trawlers in question are the Star Shrimpers 3, Cosmos 1, Trade Wind and ORC VIII. The Nigerian Navy seized the vessels on the 24th of September, and promptly handed them over to the Federal Department of Fisheries and Agriculture.
According to the Nigerian Navy, the vessels had been operating within restricted zones, which prohibit fishing within a region of five nautical miles.
“The Navy detected the illegal activities of these four fishing vessels with the use of maritime domain awareness equipment trawling within the 5 nautical miles restricted zones, and we thereafter deployed to intercept them.”
“Precisely on the 24th of September, we handed over two fishing trawlers for fishing within the 5 nautical miles restricted zone, equally the same scenario is happening again, four fishing trawlers were also arrested for the same offense and we intercepted them.”
“And I believe that with this existing collaboration and partnership with other government agencies, they’ll be able to educate the companies more on the need to avoid restricted areas to avoid crisis with local fishermen,” said the Nigerian Navy Captain, Suleiman Ibrahim in a statement to the press.
The Captains of the fishing vessels have argued that their radar and GPRS showed that they were not within the restricted area.
Fishing within the region around the Brass river is limited to local artisanal fishermen, who rely on the fishing for their livelihood.
“Ordinarily, the area is supposed to be used by local fishermen and not bigger vessels with monitoring to avoid conflicts. The act was done intentionally because they know the regulations and its implications if violated.”
“Further investigations will be done by the relevant authorities and if they are found culpable, they will face the law accordingly.”
“We advise that they operate within laid down rules and regulations which are well known by them through seminars conducted by the government agencies and other close interaction,” said a Federal Department of Fisheries & Agriculture spokesperson in a statement.