Japanese vessel detained for illegal fishing in South African waters

CAPE TOWN, (PNA/Xinhua) — A Japanese vessel was arrested for allegedly fishing illegally in South African waters, authorities confirmed on Friday.

The Japanese-registered long-line vessel Koei Maru No. 88 had been arrested for a variety of alleged transgressions near the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area off Durban in Eastern South Africa, according to the Department of Fisheries in Cape Town.

The ship’s owner had paid 2 million rands (about 200,000 U.S. dollars) as “security” for the release of the vessel, department officials said.

Officials were investigating a variety of marine-related transgressions and court proceedings would follow, according to the Durban-based Mercury newspaper.

The vessel is one of two Japanese-owned vessels leased by local companies Ngumzamo Fishing and Ferro Fishing as part of a joint venture with Japan Tuna.

The Koei Maru No. 88 and its sister vessel Koei Maru No. 1 have been sighted regularly off the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast over the past few months, sparking concern among fishermen and marine conservation groups.

There was also concern that the ship might involve in whale hunting as the waters are frequented by whales. The ship has a permit to fish legally off the South African coastline for yellowfin and bigeye tuna, as well as swordfish and shark, the Mercury said.

But the ship transgressed the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area which is off-limits for fishing, said the report.