20 July 2005

Deep-sea fishing trawler seized for illegal snoek catch in hold

The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) today seized the deep-sea trawler "Sandile", its gear, equipment, stores and cargo including the fish on board. The seizure was undertaken by Fisheries Compliance Officers of DEAT.

The Sandile, a 64,5 m deepsea trawler is owned by Ntlanzi Fishing Enterprises and is licensed to catch hake and horse mackerel on behalf of Bato Star Fishing Pty Ltd, Algoa Bay Sea Products and Fernpar Fishing Company.

The vessel will not be allowed to leave the harbour and will remain under arrest until proceedings against the owners of the Sandile and quota holders in whose name the quota is being fished, have been completed, or until payment of security for the release of the vessel has been secured.

The Department's investigation concerns the targeting of snoek as a by-catch when the vessel is licensed to catch hake and horse mackerel allocation for its rights holders. The department is concerned that steps have not been taken to prevent the harvesting of fish caught as a bycatch. The investigation is centered around allegations that the Sandile caught over 300 tons of snoek and only some 39 tons of hake during its last voyage.

Commenting on the arrest of the vessel Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, said: "Fish species like snoek are the bread and butter of our traditional line fishing communities. Our Department is particularly concerned that the actions of fishers whose permits are for other fish species should not threaten the livelihoods of these traditional line fishers, or the sustainability of the fish stocks. Some by-catch is unavoidable but this by-catch must never be intentionally targeted."

Snoek is an important species in the traditional Linefish sector. At this time of the year snoek is found further off-shore, where it spawns before it returns to the in-shore.

Commending the compliance and enforcement directorate the Minister said: "Our fisheries inspectors and compliance officials are too often seen by fishing communities as a source of frustration. Actions such as this one underscore the critical and professional role they play in protecting our valuable marine resources on behalf of all of these communities."

Source: http://www.deat.gov.za


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