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Seychelles has intercepted 3 Iranian flagged vessels using drift nets fishing illegally in its EEZ

Photography courtesy of Ralph Denis Skipper of Seychelles F/V Dolphin

Seychelles fisheries enforcement operation, involving the Coast Guard, the Seychelles Fishing Authority and the National Drug Enforcement Agency, has intercepted 3 Iranian flagged tuna vessels for illegal fishing activity in the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone.

In a combined operation, the Seychelles Coast Guard has intercepted three Iranian flagged vessels that were engaged in a suspected illegal fishing operation within the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).  The three fishing vessels, namely Al Naveed, Al Zaid and Al Fahad, did not have a fishing license and had not other form of identification. The 3 vessels are not on the list of authorized fishing vessels established by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).

The Iranian fishing vessels were spotted by local fishing vessels in an area south east of Mahé. PV Topaz, PV Andromache, NDEA Interceptor Speed Boat with SFA inspectors and SPDF Airwing aircraft were also involved in this operation. The incident was reported to the Coast Guard which diverted PS Topaz to the area to carry out the interception. The vessels were arrested on Wednesday 13th January 2010. The three Iranian fishing vessels have been escorted to Port Victoria where SFA and the Police are carrying out their investigations to detect infraction  of the Seychelles Fisheries Act.

The cargo of the Iranians flagged vessels comprised of a first estimate of 100-150 tons of tuna and tuna-like species as well as sharks.  Following the inspection of the three vessels, the owner and the captain of the three vessels will be charged for fishing without an authorisation from the Seychelles Government for which the penalty amounts to a maximum of SCR 2,500,000 per vessel.

The Seychelles Coast Guards and the Seychelles Fishing Authority wishes to thank the local fishermen that informed the authorities and participated actively in the operation.

This national operation comes after the Seychelles recently fined and deflagged the Taiwanese’s owned Seychelles-flagged longliner SHUENN MAN 232 for illegal fishing and strongly reiterated the zero tolerance position of the Ministry of Environment , Natural Resources and Transport, with regards to illegal fishing activity and the commitment and determination of the Government of Seychelles to fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing activities that is also in line with the newly in force EU IUU Regulation as from 1st January 2010.

In order to complement the patrolling activities of the Seychelles Coast Guard, the Seychelles Fishing Authority has recently signed a chartering agreement with a private company for the provision of a fishery patrol vessel under the command of the SFA, in collaboration with the Seychelles Coast Guard. These fisheries enforcement platforms provide the Seychelles with suitable tools to better control fishing activity at sea and detect IUU fishing. The SFA is also actively participating in EU funded Regional Fishery Surveillance project managed by the Indian Ocean Commission.

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