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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Mozambique: Namibia awaiting information on seized fishing ship
Maputo - The Namibian government says it has not yet received from the Mozambican authorities any official information about the seizure earlier this month of the Namibian registered fishing ship, the "Antillas Reefer".
The unlicensed "Antillas Reefer" was spotted fishing off the central Mozambican province of Zambezia in late June. It was ordered to put in at Maputo, where fisheries inspectors found that it was carrying 43 tonnes of sharks, four tonnes of shark fin, 1.8 tonnes of shark tail, 11.3 tonnes of shark liver, and 20 tonnes of shark oil. It was also found to be used illegal fishing gear.
The Fisheries Ministry has imposed a fine of 4.5 million US dollars on the ship's owners, and confiscated the ship and everything on board.
The Namibian Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Abraham Iyombo, told Namibian journalists on Tuesday that he was still waiting for official information from Mozambique, and that would determine what action the Namibian authorities would take.
"Currently, my ministry is still waiting for official communication from Mozambique, and this data will enable Namibia to take any action on the "Antillas Reefer" where possible," Iyambo said.
Iyambo's ministry does take a firm line against illegal fishing. Also on Tuesday it de-registered the "Paloma V", a sister ship of the "Antillas Reefer", which was seized in New Zealand in May. A New Zealand court found that the "Paloma V" had been involved in illegal fishing for toothfish in the Antarctic Ocean.
The "Paloma V" is owned by Omunkete Fishing of Walvis Bay, while the "Antillas Reefer" is owned by Ompala Fishing, also of Walvis Bay. Both are joint ventures between the Uruguayan company Mabenal, and the Namibian company Gongala Fishing, and thus seem to be two names for one and the same company.
Iyambo said that in light of the New Zealand complaint his ministry was stripping the "Paloma V" of its registration. The ship's national fishing licence was revoked last week, and the latest measure means that it can no longer fly the Namibian flag.
The New Zealand inspectors did not believe the stories told by the "Paloma V" captain, and checked the ship's computers, where they found evidence that it had been involved in illegal fishing.
Faced with these problems, the "Paloma V" is looking for some other country to host its operations, and has told the Namibian government that it will re-register in Mauritius. But Namibia and Mauritius are both members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which is supposed to be taking a strong stand against illegal fishing. Mauritius may object to being treated as a haven for ships that have been de-registered in other SADC countries.
The New Zealand court action makes it likely that the Paloma V will be blacklisted by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which would prevent it from entering any ports in countries that are signatories to this commission - and that includes Mauritius.
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Political processes/Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Ocean Areas/Indian Ocean