Illegal sea cucumber fishing: Seychelles Defence Forces intercept Madagascan boat
The suspected Madagascar-flagged fishing vessel. (Seychelles Defence Forces)
The Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF) have intercepted a Madagascar-flagged fishing vessel suspected of conducting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the island nation's waters.
According to a press release from the SDF on Friday, the operation was carried out in a joint effort involving the Seychelles Coast Guard, Air Force, and Special Forces.
SDF said that on April 16 at approximately 4.34 p.m., "a local fishing vessel reported the presence of four unknown vessels suspected to be from Madagascar in the vicinity of Providence Island to the Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG) Maritime Operation Centre (MOC). The Seychelles Air Force (SAF) aircraft CG011 was tasked to investigate and confirm the presence of the vessels."
Patrol ship Zoroaster was diverted to the Farquhar area. According to the commanding officer of the Special Forces Unit, Lieutenant Colonel Archil Mondon, after being made aware of the situation, "From there, a boat was sent to arrest the suspected illegal fishermen, but as it took a long time to get there, only one boat was left in the area by the time the Seychelles Coast Guard boat got there.”
The intercepted vessel, with 18 crew members, was boarded, inspected, and escorted to Farquhar Island, and then escorted to Mahe. Information gathered indicated that all the boats observed were from Madagascar and have engaged in illegal sea cucumber fishing.
SDF said that the Malagasy authorities have been notified and necessary legal action is expected to be initiated against them.
"In a similar case, at least three other suspected fishing boats from Comoros were also observed around Cosmoledo and Aldabra Atolls last week. Details of the vessels, including registration numbers captured by sensors from the local Dornier aircraft, have been forwarded to the Comorian authorities for follow-up action," said SDF.
|Suspected fishing vessels from Comoros. (Seychelles Defence Forces) Photo License: CC-BY|
The Seychelles Defence Forces are also working in close collaboration with the Regional Centre for Operation Coordination (RCOC) to ensure proper liaison with concerned countries in the region and that necessary legal actions are initiated against the culprits.
Additionally, the diplomatic channel is being used to resolve these issues of illegal incursions into Seychelles waters.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million square kilometres which makes surveillance of illegal maritime activities a challenge.
The island nation has stepped up efforts to combat illicit drug trafficking and illegal fishing in its waters. Part of the measures is that SDF assets are continuously involved in regional operations with partner countries and organisations.