‘Capture of Angolan vessel a stern warning’

SEIZED … Angolan-flagged MFV Lucimar was impounded in connection with unlawful fishing activities on 19 December. Photo: Contributed

The Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations (CNFA) has voiced its approval of the recent capture of an Angolan fishing vessel engaged in alleged illegal fishing activities within Namibian waters, hailing it as an important step forward.

Citing staggering losses of over N$1,5 billion annually due to illicit, unreported and unregulated fishing practices, the CNFA says this arrest serves as a stern warning to those who are engaged in illegal fishing activities in Namibian waters.

This is after a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources alongside the Namibian Navy led to the apprehension of the Angolan-flagged MFV Lucimar in connection with unlawful fishing activities on 19 December last year.

“This is a step in the right direction. This development will serve as a case study to those who harbour the same intention of coming to fish in Namibian waters illegally,” CNFA chairperson Matti Amukwa says.

Positioned approximately 24km within Namibian territorial waters, the vessel was found operating near the Angolan/Namibian border without the requisite permissions.

Namibia’s Natanael Maxhulili patrol vessel intercepted and escorted the Angolan vessel to the port of Walvis Bay, where it was securely docked.

“As a fishing industry, we fully support the fisheries ministry and all the law-enforcement agencies in these operations. We call on all Namibians to do the same. Illegal fishing has been happening,” Amukwa says.

National police spokesperson deputy commissioner Kauna Shikwambi says the Angolan vessel, carrying 19 crew members, comprised 15 Angolan nationals, two Senegalese nationals, one South African national, and one Portuguese national.

“Upon inspection by fisheries inspectors it was found that the vessel does not have a licence or a permit to harvest marine resources in Namibian territorial waters, and that it has contravened other fisheries-related acts,” she says.

Shikwambi says the vessel’s captain, Rodrigues Jose, its chief engineer, Charl le Corre and an Angolan crew member, Mateus Sikalepo Ambrosio, were arrested, charged and appeared in court at Walvis Bay Magistrate’s Court on 29 December.

The court denied them bail and the three suspects were remanded in custody.

The case has been postponed to 8 February to allow for further investigation.

Illegal fishing has been ongoing in Namibia’s northern waters since 2015.

According to the CNFA, over 100 000 tonnes of fish are harvested by six or seven foreign trawlers that are allegedly working under licence in Angolan waters in the northern part of the country annually.

A 2017 report on illegal fishing by the fisheries ministry, which was fully supported by industry, concluded that to fight illegal fishing, the deployment of monitoring, control and surveillance platforms at and around the northern maritime border are required.

Last year, an expenditure exceeding N$70 million was made available in the battle against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities within the country’s territory.

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