Mauritian action on Sri Lankan vessels

Summary

A group of four Sri Lankan fishing vessels were identified by satellite tracking as fishing illegally in Mauritian waters. A Coastguard plane was deployed to ascertain the facts and illegal fishing was confirmed.

Vessels involved:

  • F/V YASAISURU – 3
  • F/V YASAISURU – 3 (C)
  • F/V YASAISURU-3 -B 7.4V
  • F/V YASAISURU-3 -A 6.2V

Key events

Mid-May 2016:   A group of four Sri Lankan vessels were identified as operating on the Saya De Malha Bank, off the Mauritian EEZ in mid-May 2016.

22 May 2016:  On the 22nd of May, the vessels entered into the Mauritian EEZ, and AIS tracks indicated that they were continuing their fishing operations. Information transmitted over AIS suggested that all four were fishing vessels flagged to Sri Lanka with names that are variants of YASAISURU (possibly also spelled YASAI SURU). No information was available to confirm the identity or authorisation status of these vessels and these names do not appear on the current or historical list of vessels authorised to operate in the IOTC area. As the majority of Sri Lankan vessels currently appear to be authorised to IOTC using registration numbers rather than names it was difficult to establish whether they were IOTC authorised.

26 May 2016:  The Mauritian authorities dispatched an aircraft to check on the location and activity of the vessels. Radio contact was attempted but none of the four responded to requests for contact, and the vessels then left the region.

On-going:  With enough evidence that illegal fishing activity had occurred Mauritian authorities have been in contact with the flag State Sri Lanka to take follow up action against the vessels.

What did FISH-i Africa do?

  • Identified vessels operating illegally
  • Tracked the vessels
  • Alerted and updated Mauritian authorities

Conclusion

This case provides a textbook example of how information sharing and timely MCS operations can be effective in stopping illegal fishing. Satellite tracking is a valuable means of locating vessels and establishing their activity.