Falkland Islands Government Director of Natural Resources John Barton said that he is confident that there won’t be any repetition in the future of recent offences by companies licensed to fish in Falklands waters.
Two companies from Korea and one from Taiwan received combined fines of more than £100.000 for breaches of their license conditions. Vessels belonging to the companies had left Falklands waters temporarily and entered another country’s zone to catch fish (Argentina).
Earlier this month another Taiwanese company was fined £44,000 for similar offences.
In court in Stanley Senior Magistrate Carl Gumsley after delivering the fines remarked that these types of offences “appeared to becoming more prevalent”.
However, the Director of Natural Resources John Barton told the Falklands’ local broadcasting station that the offences brought before the court recently dated back to a point in time.
He said he believed that the enforcement action being taken to bring vessels suspected of breaching their license conditions into Stanley for investigation and the subsequent prosecutions will become a deterrence to future offending.
Mr Barton says he believed that this along with the firm warnings sent out by the Fisheries Department will stop this type of activity dead in its tracks.
Over two hundred tonnes of squid was forfeited by the fishing companies convicted of the offences. Mr Barton says that local companies and agents have been invited to purchase the forfeited squid.
Earlier this month the Zhen Man Fishery Company and the master of the Hua Sheng 626, Hsiung Wu Sheng both pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to submit fish end reports and two counts of failing to give the Director of Fisheries 72 hours advance notice that the vessel was leaving Falklands’ waters.
At the court it was disclosed that the movements of the Hua Sheng vessel with a Falklands licence to catch squid had been monitored from the 31st March to 7th April by the Fisheries Department via the ship’s onboard vessel monitoring system.
“Over the seven nights, it was recorded leaving the Falklands zone and returning the following morning. On one night the vessel was recorded as being 14 nautical miles outside the Falklands zone”.
Mr. Barton had issued several warnings to the Taiwanese fleet that they were at risk of entering the waters of a neighbouring country.
When interviewed about the offences, the master of the vessel confirmed that he had understood the conditions of the vessel’s license and that he had received the warnings from the Director of Fisheries. Hsiung Wu Sheng accepted that he had deliberately ignored the warnings and had deliberately left Falklands waters. (PN)