Huge fine for illegal fishing heralds new era of enforcement, Seychelles Fisheries Authority says
Two Sri Lankan vessels fished in Seychelles waters in June this year. (Nation of Seychelles)
(Seychelles News Agency) – Seychelles sends clear message that it will not tolerate illegal activities in its waters after hefty fine of SCR 2.5 million – or $ 167,000 – was imposed on Sri Lankan national Lankan, a senior official said on Friday.
Mahalingam Kanapathi, the captain of a Sri Lankan-flagged vessel intercepted in Seychelles waters, was convicted on August 4 of fishing without a foreign fishing vessel license.
The 32-year-old man was convicted of the offense under the Fisheries Act of the Seychelles. If he does not pay the fine by August 14, he faces a two-year prison sentence.
The legal adviser of the Seychelles Fisheries Authority, Yannick Roucou, told reporters that the fine is the minimum prescribed by law for such an offense.
âThis is the first time since the law came into force in 2015 that such a fine has been imposed. This judgment is very important for us, because in previous cases where the court has rendered its decision, the fine imposed was far from the minimum fine provided for by law, âsaid Roucou.
He gave the examples of two vessels intercepted for illegal fishing in Seychelles waters in 2019 which were fined 1,000 SCR and 2,000 SCR.
“When the judge made his decision, he took into account that these people are seen as limited means – they do not have the capacity to pay such fines,” Roucou said.
“I think the court this time understood what message the authority wanted to convey. Chief Justice Govinden stressed that such action should be discouraged and by imposing such a fine we are sending a message to the international community that Seychelles not take such acts lightly, âhe added.
SFA oversight, control and oversight official Johnny Louys said that in addition to having a chilling effect on others, if the fine were to be paid, it would allow the country to recover the money lost through the coordination of these operations and related expenses.
âSeychelles is getting something back and this is more important than ever as our economy is in dire straits,â Louys said.
Since 2015, around 23 cases of such illegal fishing have occurred in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. About 80 percent were Sri Lankan ships and Roucou said such cases are on the rise and are occurring more frequently.
He explained that stealing resources from Seychelles is not fair to local fishermen who need to go fishing further out to sea for longer periods of time.
âThe SFA and other authorities ensure that our marine resources are exploited in a sustainable manner. When such people commit such illegal acts in our waters, it defeats the efforts of all authorities. At the same time, it affects the lives of all Seychellois because these resources are for the Seychellois people, âsaid Roucou.