War against illegal fishing at sea: Trawler slapped with $1m fine …to pay additional GH¢124,000 penalty

A fishing company at Tema, Gyinam Fisheries Limited, has been slapped with a $1 million penalty following the arrest of its industrial fishing trawler, Lu Rong Yuan Yu 956 (AF 756) for illegal fishing.

The company would also  pay an  additional fine of GH¢ 124,000 for the fish found  on board the vessel at the time of arrest in accordance with Section 88A of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 2014 (Act 880).

It has up to November 8,2019, to effect full payment of all the fines or the case would revert to the court.

The penalty  and fines were  arrived at by the Fisheries Out of Court Settlement Committee in Takoradi, comprising Fisheries Commission, Marine Police, Ghana Navy and Attorney General’s Department  arranged an out of court hearing of the case on October 9, 2019.

 Documents available to the Ghanaian Times indicates that during a joint inspection on board of the vessels owned by Gyinam Fisheries Limited, the Joint Fisheries Enforcement team found 405 cartons and 864 slabs of frozen mixed small pelagic fish species generally below the minimum landing size, non-logging (non-reporting) of catch on board and undersized mesh with sizes of less than the approved 60mm. 

The joint team was made up of the Fisheries Enforcement Unit, Ghana Navy, Marine Police and Ghana Maritime Authority

Consequently, the Marine Police brought charges based on the infractions against the Captain, Chief Engineer and Second officer, and two Ghanaian crew members, who later were arraigned before the Takoradi Circuit Court on June 25, 2019 accused of engaging in Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

 The suspects according to court records pleaded not guilty to all the charges levelled against them and were granted bail in the sum of GH¢ 500,000 each with two sureties, one of whom must be a resident of Sekondi-Takoradi.

 “The trawler remained detained at the Western Naval Command until full payment of the penalty.” he added.

The Fisheries Director told the Ghanaian Times that after the arrest of the industrial trawler, LuRong Yuan Yu 956 (AF 756), the Takoradi Circuit Court has been hearing the case in court, but, had not concluded proceedings.

While the trial was ongoing, counsel for the accused and owners of the vessel sought for an out of court settlement.

It will be recalled that, on Sunday, June 16, 2019, the Western Naval Command of the Ghana Navy while on sea patrol, arrested the industrial trawlers, Lu Rong Yuan Yu 956 (AF 756), on suspicion of illegal fishing while it was headed to Cote d’Ivoire for fishing.

 “The team suspected the vessel to be engaging in illegal fishing. The vessel was arrested and escorted to the Western Naval Base in Sekondi on the same day and detained.”

While the trial was ongoing, counsel for the accused and owners of the vessel sought for an out of court settlement.

A fine was thus imposed on them as a result of the hearing by the Fisheries Out of Court Settlement Committee in Takoradi.

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