Navy arrests 26 persons, two trawlers for illegal fishing in Bayelsa
The Nigerian Navy has arrested two fishing trawlers belonging to a Nigerian company, ORC Fishing, and Food Processing Limited, and 26 crew members, including four foreigners, for illegal fishing activities in Bayelsa State.
The two vessels, ORC 5 and CYNTHIA, with 13 crew members each were arrested for allegedly fishing within the restricted distance of five nautical miles from the coastline.
Handing over the vessels with their contents and the crew to the Federal Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Commanding Base Officer, FORMOSO, Capt. Suleiman Ibrahim said the Navy detected the activities of the two vessels with the use of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) equipment.
Ibrahim said they were trawling within the five nautical miles restricted zones, which made the Navy deploy its men to intercept them.
He noted that the area was supposed to be used by local fishermen and not bigger vessels, to avoid conflicts.
The commanding officer, however, said that relevant authorities would carry out further investigations.
He advised fishermen to operate within the ambits of the law, as they had been sensitised through seminars by government agencies.
Said he, “The five nautical miles restriction zone is supposed to be used by artisanal fishermen locally, and the monitoring is done to prevent conflicts between them.
“The regulation is known to all the fishing companies, and it is clear that the two trawlers deliberately carried out their actions.”
In his brief, the Assistant Director, Monitoring Control and Surveillance Unit of the ministry, Mr. Paul Opoama, confirmed receipt of the vessels and crew arrested by the Navy for onward investigation.
Opoama noted that with the collaboration in terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Navy, more illegality within the Nigerian territorial waters would be nipped in the bud.
The captain of ORC 5, Olayeye Ejagbomo, and his counterpart, with CYNTHIA, Ayemobuma Omosuyi, didn’t deny the allegations.
While Omosuyi was silent on every allegation ranging from illegal fishing to having two additional crew members on board with no official documentation and means of identification, Ejagbomo claimed to have lost communication signals with his company on complaints of slow speed, hence he moved within the illegal area.
Besides, Omosuyi could not give any cogent reason for having additional crew members and some with no means of identification.