The Fu Yuan Yu 7880, Fu Yang Yu 7881 and Run Da 617 are currently impounded in East London Port whilst the South African authorities make further investigations into the estimated 600 tons of squid found on board. Security around the vessels is high with the SA Drakensberg guarding the entrance to the port to ensure that the vessels do not abscond, as happened with the Samudra Pacific No.8 and Berkat Menjala No.23 who escaped from the Port of Cape Town in 2013.
The two Chinese squid jiggers, the Fu Yuan Yu 7880 and Fu Yang Yu 7881 were identified by satellite monitoring systems to be in the South African EEZ without permission and without fishing permits. Apprehended in a joint operation between the South African Navy, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) the two vessels initially cooperated with the authorities, but in a similar style to the Lu Huang Yuan Yu fleet that had been intercepted the previous week, the vessels tried to escape under the cover of night. This time the authorities were prepared, gave chase and boarded the vessels.
The Run Da 617, an Indonesian fishing vessel, had been trying to reach open ocean by steaming through the middle of the operation‚ was also boarded and the inspection revealed 200 tons of squid so she was ordered to join the convoy.
“The capturing of these vessels indicates our seriousness as a country to protect our territorial and exclusive economic zone. We cannot tolerate the plundering of our marine resources, which are a source of food security and play a huge role in realising our goals in Operation Phakisa. We are also looking into the sudden influx of these vessels in our waters” said Minister Zokwana.
Global supply shortages continue to strengthen market pricing for all species of squid and Dino Moodley‚ of the South Africa Squid Management Industrial Association put the value of the catch at R70 million, nearly USD 4.5 million. Tests are underway to establish the origin of the squid, any squid caught in South African waters would have been caught illegally as the fishery is closed until July 1st.
An initial court appearance for the captains of the vessels took place on 25th May and the case was postponed to 15th June 2016 to allow for further investigations to take place. An array of charges are being contemplated against the vessels‚ which include not complying with lawful instructions, crew safety‚ a pollution threat‚ vessel safety standards and infringing conservation measures.
Non-compliance by Chinese fishing vessels within African waters is becoming a more regular and worrying feature in the news, recent incidents have included the countries of Sierra Leone, Argentina, South Africa and Somalia.The FISH-i Africa Task Force continues to monitor activity within the Western Indian Ocean region to prevent illegal fishing. Stop Illegal Fishing works to highlight incidences of illegal fishing and works with governments and stakeholders to find ways to overcome these illegal acts and stop the plunder.