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Ghanians and Nigrians Arrested for illegal Fishing

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Ghanians and Nigrians arrested for illegal fishing
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Wema Bank Alat

Ghanians and Nigrians arrested for illegal fishing

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The Nigerian Navy Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, recently made headlines when thirteen Nigerians and four Ghanaians were arrested for illegal fishing. This bold move underscores the Navy’s commitment to safeguarding the nation’s maritime resources and upholding the rule of law at sea.

 

 

The arrest, which took place in the Mbo local government area of Akwa Ibom state, was a result of the Navy’s swift response to an intelligence report received on Tuesday, January 23. The report alerted the authorities to illegal trawling activities within 2 nautical miles of the Nigerian Continental Shelf and an Automatic Identification System infraction by the vessel MFV TOKE II in the Calabar Channel.

 

 

Commander Daniel Onyemaeze, the Base Operating Officer, revealed that the suspects were apprehended and the vessel impounded during a routine patrol. The MFV TOKE II, carrying 17 crew members—13 Nigerians and 4 Ghanaians—was found laden with 150 bags of fish, 100 packs of shrimp, and 20 loose fish in her two cold rooms, all obtained from illicit trawling activities.

 

 

Further investigations disclosed that the vessel had departed from the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) Commandant Jetty in Kirikiri, Lagos State, for fishing activities on November 29, 2023. It had spent a total of 55 days at sea before being intercepted by the FOB, the Ibaka patrol boat. The vessel’s surveillance activities revealed its engagement in illicit fishing, leading to its subsequent arrest.

 

 

In response to the incident, the Naval Headquarters directed the base to hand over the vessel to the Federal Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture for further investigation and possible prosecution. Commander Onyemaeze also emphasized the need for fishing vessels to adhere to maritime regulations, including maintaining a safe distance from the Nigerian Continental Shelf, using operational Automatic Identification Systems (AIS), employing the correct size of fishing nets, and obtaining monthly Naval Headquarters approval for all fishing activities in Nigerian waters.

 

 

Upon receiving the suspects and the vessel, Mrs. Stella Anuforo, a Fisheries Officer at the Federal Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Calabar, expressed gratitude to the Nigerian Navy for its efforts in securing the maritime environment. She assured that the department would conduct a thorough investigation of the suspects and take necessary actions in line with the law.

 

 

This incident highlights the critical role that maritime security forces play in combating illegal activities at sea. The Nigerian Navy’s vigilance and swift response demonstrate its commitment to preserving the nation’s marine resources and ensuring sustainable fishing practices. Furthermore, it emphasizes the importance of international cooperation in combating transnational maritime crimes, as demonstrated by the collaboration of Nigerian and Ghanaian authorities in this case.

 

 

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing poses a significant threat to marine ecosystems, jeopardizing the livelihoods of coastal communities and undermining efforts to promote sustainable fisheries. It is imperative for all stakeholders, including government agencies, fishing companies, and local communities, to work together to combat such illicit activities and promote responsible fishing practices.

 

 

Moreover, this incident highlights the need for enhanced surveillance and enforcement measures to deter and apprehend those engaged in illegal fishing. By leveraging technological solutions such as AIS and strengthening coordination among maritime agencies, it is possible to enhance the monitoring and control of fishing activities, thereby deterring potential violators and ensuring compliance with regulations.

 

 

In conclusion, the arrest of thirteen Nigerians and four Ghanaians over illegal fishing activities by the Nigerian Navy is a testament to the resolve to combat maritime crimes and uphold the principles of sustainable marine resource management. It serves as a call to action for all stakeholders to prioritize the protection of marine ecosystems and promote responsible fishing practices. Through continued vigilance, collaboration, and adherence to maritime regulations, we can strive towards a more secure and sustainable maritime environment for present and future generations.

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