The arrest of a flagless fishing trawler operating illegally in Tanzanian
waters has alerted that country to the dangers posed on its fishing industry business by pirate fishing craft catching tuna and other fish within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
This came to the fore when the trawler TAWAQUAL 1 with a crew of 35 on board was arrested about 100 miles off the Tanzanian coast by a South African-led joint operation. The fishing vessel was towed into Dar es Salaam port by a tug where its arrival was met by approval from Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete, who praised the surveillance which led to the trawler’s arrest. The crew off the Tawaqual 1, made up of Chinese, Filipinos, Kenyans and Vietnamese were expected to appear in court last week but the case was delayed on account of the Tanzanian police failing to obtain the services of interpreters in time. The Taiwanese captain, Hsu Ching Tai is to be formally charged as soon as the police complete their investigation but police say the ship’s owners face a fine of up to US$20 million if found guilty.
Within days of the ship’s arrest police also took into custody another Chinese national by name of Ho Hanquing, who claimed he was the ship’s agent.
The operation was conducted jointly by South African, Mozambican, Kenyan and Tanzanian agents operating as part of the South African Development Community (SADC) and forms part of an agreement made last year to conduct joint patrols of the EEZs of member states bordering on the Indian Ocean. The patrols are intended to eliminate illegal and unregulated fishing activities involving both local and foreign fishermen. Tanzania has estimated that up to 70 foreign fishing ships are operating illegally within its EEZ. – Source East African Business Week