Operatives of the Nigerian Navy have arrested two fishing trawlers belonging to a Nigerian company, ORC Fishing and Food Processing Limited and its 26 crew members, including four foreigners for illegal fishing activities.
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 off the Nigerian coastline.
Handing over the vessels and their contents, with all 26 crew members to the Federal Department of fisheries and Aquaculture, Commanding Base officer, FORMOSO, Capt. Suleiman Ibrahim, said the navy detected the illegal activities of the two fishing vessels with the use of maritime domain awareness equipment trawling within the five nautical miles restricted zone and thereafter deployed to intercept them.
Capt. Ibrahim noted that ordinarily, the area is supposed to be used by local fishermen and not bigger vessels with monitoring equipment to avoid conflicts, adding that the act is done intentionally because they know the regulations and the implications in the event of violations.
He however, said further investigations will be done by the relevant authorities and if the two trawlers and crew members are found culpable, they will be made to face the law accordingly.
Responding, the Assistant Director, Monitoring Control and Surveillance unit of the Federal Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Paul Opoama, confirmed that he has officially received the two vessels and crew members arrested by the navy for onward investigation.
Opoama, noted that with the collaboration with the navy, more illegality within Nigeria’s territorial waters will be nipped in the bud, especially vessels that violate the Sea Fishery Act banning trawling within the five nautical miles radius.
Captain of the ORC 5 vessel, Olayeye Ejagbomo and his counterpart, Ayemobuma Omosuyi, when interviewed by journalists didn’t deny the allegation of fishing in the restricted area.
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 with his company on forcing him to move into the restricted area.