It is not uncommon for seafarers, whilst at anchorage or in one of South African ports, to fish off the side of their vessel.
This practice is illegal unless the seafarer is in possession of a fishing permit and that any fish that are caught are within the correct catch and bag size.
South Africa P&I Associates also informed that three seafarers were faced with arrest and prosecution Tuesday under the Marine Living Resources Act No. 18 of 1988.
Under the act, the fine can be as much as 2 million Rand or up to 5 years imprisonment.
They were able to negotiate a quick plea deal of R5000 per seafarer to avoid the arrest of the seafarers and the obvious delay to the vessel sailing from Durban that night.
We discussed the incident with the DAFF inspectors who also informed us that ALL ships calling at South African ports were also required to disclose whether they have fish products onboard and where those fish products were obtained. If the master fails to make such disclosure and they find fresh fish products onboard, they can detain and fine the vessel. Again, the fine is up to 2 million Rand or 5 years imprisonment.
As such, it seems that the authorities are cracking down on illegal fishing in South African waters and that they are looking to protect marine resources.
Crews should be informed that no fishing is permitted in South Africa waters without a permit and that vessels must disclose whether they have fresh fish products onboard. If they do, the master must disclose the origin of the fresh fish.
Whilst the above may seem trivial, if a master is arrested or the vessel is detained, for breach of the above legislation, then vessel could be delayed, taken off hire, and the financial implications as a result of any off-hire could have greater financial consequences for owners.