Sri Lankan charged for illegal fishing in Seychelles' waters
The Seychelles Coast Guard patrol ship ‘Topaz’ intercepted the Sri Lankan vessel during a routine patrol. (Seychelles People's Defence Forces)
(Seychelles News Agency) - A Sri Lankan national was charged for illegal fishing in the Seychelles’ waters by the Supreme Court on Thursday.
Koswatta Thamel -- who was in charge of the vessel -- appeared in court with five other crew members of the Sri Lankan-flagged boat ‘Nuwan Putha 14, IMULAN 0831 KLT’. The five crew members were released.
Justice Ronny Govinden, who is presiding over the case, said that “given that he has no fixed place of abode in Seychelles and that he poses a flight risk and that the offence is very serious, I will remand him in custody for 14 days.”
The Seychelles Coast Guard patrol ship ‘Topaz’ intercepted the Sri Lankan vessel during a routine patrol. The vessel was first spotted by a local fishing vessel of the southeast of Mahe, the main island, on February 28. The local fishing vessel alerted the relevant authorities.
According to the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces, the Coast Guard board team was subsequently sent on board the suspected vessel to conduct an inspection, during which evidence relating to illegal fishing was observed.
The Seychelles Supreme Court has ordered that the equipment, gears, furniture, appurtenance, stores, log book record, documents and equipment and computer and any other electronic device found therein to be detained.
Govinden said that the Sri Lankan vessel “is not to leave port and nobody has to have access to it otherwise than the Seychelles Fisheries Authorities personals and the Seychelles Police, except upon further orders of this Court.”
There have been several incidents of Sri Lankan-flagged vessels fishing in the Seychelles’ waters since May last year.
Last Friday, the Supreme Court sentenced the captain of a Sri Lankan fishing vessel $14,600 (SCR200,000) for illegal fishing in the Seychelles’ waters. The Sri Lankan national, Kaluharath Keerthirathan, pleaded guilty to the charge of fishing without a foreign licence on November 5, 2018.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has a vast Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million square kilometres, which presents a challenge when it comes to the monitoring of illegal fishing.