The Central Naval Command (CNC) of the Nigerian Navy (NN) has nabbed three Ghanaians and 49 others for ‘illegal’ fishing activities on Brass River, Brass Local Government Area, Bayelsa State.
The suspects including four fishing trawlers were on Wednesday transferred to the Federal Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (FDFA) for further investigations and prosecution.
The Commanding Officer, Forward Operating Base (FOB) FORMOSO, Capt. Suleiman Ibrahim, handed over the four vessels christened, Star Shrimpers 3, Cosmos 1, Trade Wind and ORC VII and the crew members to officials of FDFA in Brass.
Ibrahim said the feat was an indication that the partnership involving the Navy, which is under the Federal Ministry of Defence, the FDFA and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was yielding positive results.
He recalled that a few days ago two vessels with crew members were also handed over for trespassing the restricted zones.
He noted that the law stipulated clearly that fishing trawlers were not allowed to fish within the five nautical miles at the restricted zone.
He said, “The Navy detected the illegal activities of these four fishing vessels with the use of maritime domain awareness equipment trawling within the five nautical miles restricted zones, and we thereafter deployed our operatives to intercept them.
“Precisely on the 24th of this month, we handed over two fishing trawlers for fishing within the 5 nautical miles restricted zone. The same scenario is happening again, four fishing trawlers were also arrested for the same offense and we tracked intercepted them.
“I believe with this existing collaboration and partnership with other government agencies, we will be able to educate the companies more on the need to stay away from the restricted areas to avoid crisis with local fishermen”.
Speaking on the development, the Assistant Director and Head of Monitoring Control and Surveillance, FDFA, Popoola Babatunde, said said his interactions with the suspects revealed that the impounded vessels, dropped within the non- trawling zones meant for canoe fishermen.
He noted that if found culpable, the suspects and their firms would be punished accordingly.
Captain of one of the vessels, Emilola Tebiti said their raider and GPRS while trawling showed they were not within the restricted areas.