A repeat offender bought to book: the NESSA 7

Nessa 7

Summary

The NESSA 7 was being tracked by FISH-i Africa as it was thought to be one of the many ‘NAHAM 4’ vessels that had been operating in the Indian Ocean during 2013. With all countries on alert for the vessel it was intercepted by Mozambican authorities resulting in fines, fishing bans for the owner and operator and confiscation of the vessel.

Key events

December 2015:  Identified by the FISH-i Africa Task Force as a high-risk vessel, alerts had been issued relating to the NESSA 7 ahead of its detention in Mozambique. FISH-i Africa had tracked the vessel from Cape Town to Durban to South America prior to its arrival in Lüderitz, Namibia in December 2015. The vessel received permission from the Namibian Department of Maritime Affairs (DMA) to anchor outside port limits and receive stores. They chose to arrive at 22:00 on the 9 December and were supplied on 10 December (a public holiday in Namibia) and were gone before midday, heading for Maputo, Mozambique.

The NESSA 7 with callsign NºHP3125 entered into Mozambican waters on 29 December 2015 without providing any advance information as is required to enter the EEZ or the port. Immediately a joint mission was deployed to board the vessel where an initial inspection identified a range of potential illegalities and infringements. The vessel was ordered to Maputo Fishing Port for further investigations.

These investigations revealed that NESSA 7 was indeed the former NAHAM 4 that had been sold in South Africa at auction. The vessel showed hidden identification marks of the NAHAM 4 and had gear for longline fishing on board. The vessel was not physically flying any flag, although a Panamanian flag was found on board, nor was it displaying any registration number.

The investigation also provided strong evidence that NESSA 7 was engaged in other illicit maritime activities, for example the cargo holds were dry with no signs that regular fishing operations were taking place. Contradictory information from the documents also suggested that the owners did not want the longliner to be identified as a fishing vessel as it was carrying a Pleasure Vessels Safety Certificate. The master Anthony Clement alleged that the vessel was engaged in antipiracy operations but could not prove this so the real activity of the vessel was not confirmed.

2016:  Now the property of the State, the NESSA 7 may become a fisheries patrol vessel joining the ANTILLAS REEFER, also seized as a result of illegal fishing in Mozambican waters in 2008.

What did FISH-i Africa do?

  • Tracked the former NAHAM 4 vessel following its sale at auction
  • Alerted FISH-i Task Force to the approach of the vessel
  • Advised Task Force members
  • Cooperated between members to share information

Conclusion

The NESSA 7 demonstrates the persistence and determination of illegal operators to act illegally. Renaming and reflagging of vessels, and arriving in port on public holidays when staffing levels are likely to be low are all characteristic of vessel operators who have something to hide.