Cape Town - South Africa's off-shore environmental protection vessel, the Sarah Baartman, returned to Cape Town Harbour on Thursday from a four-nation transboundary fisheries patrol in South African, Tanzanian, Mozambican and Kenyan waters.
The joint patrol was aimed at improving and strengthening fisheries surveillance and law enforcement activities within the Southern African Developing Community (SADC) region and along the African coastline.
According to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, the inspectors from all four countries arrested six vessels and inspected more than 40 vessels. It covered more than 7200 nautical miles, which is the same distance from Cape Town to Helsinki in Finland and a further 3500km beyond that.
The eleven Fisheries Inspectors on board, including two inspectors each from Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya, arrested six vessels and inspected a total of 41 fishing vessels over a 31 day period.
Two South African hake handline vessels were arrested approximately 30 nautical miles off Mossel Bay coast for inadequate and lack of required documentation on board the vessels, said the department.
Inspections involve examining fishing gear, catches, log books, licenses and permits of fishing vessels.
In Mozambique another hake handline vessel was arrested for a lack of required documentation.
A prawn fishing vessel was arrested for illegally fishing in a restricted zone, following high levels of hostility and resistance from the master and crew of the vessel.
The department said inspectors from the Sarah Baartman forcefully boarded the vessel and took control thereof. Mozambican inspectors arrested the vessel and escorted the vessel to the Port of Angoche in Mozambique.
In Tanzania, more than 290 tons of blue fin tuna was found onboard a vessel without any legitimate fishing permit or licence. The vessel and crew were arrested and all fish was confiscated by the Tanzanian authorities.
This incident drew widespread national recognition from Tanzanians for the inspectors and crew on-board the Sarah Baartman, resulting in special accolades being bestowed on the team by the Tanzanian Minister for Livestock and Fishing Development, John Magufuli.
The team inspectors were also invited by the President of Tanzania, President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete who paid tribute to the work the inspectors have done in fighting illegal fishing in Tanzanian waters.
On route back to South Africa, off the coast from Durban, a Spanish foreign fishing vessel was arrested and fined R300 000 for being without a valid permit in South African waters.
The vessel is detained and will be released upon payment of the fine.
In addition to the inspections and arrests, a vigorous training programme was also rolled out which included technical, operational and legal training