South Africa’s P&I Associates (Pty) Ltd has warned Gard, West of England and Skuld members that, although fishing off the side of a vessel while anchored in port might be a common pastime, many national waters required fishermen to obtain fishing permits. There might also be restrictions on the number and types of fish that can be caught. Gard said that crew members should respect and follow the fishing regulations of each country, or risk legal and financial consequences.
Vessels might also be required to disclose all fresh fish products on board and their origins.
P&I Associates noted that local authorities in South Africa had been cracking down on illegal fishing in a bid to protect the country’s marine resources. The Department of Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) has appointed inspectors to attend vessels to check for undeclared fish and fresh fish products on board.
The correspondents recounted a recent incident in Durban where three seafarers narrowly escaped arrest and prosecution under the South African Marine Living Resources Act No 18 of 1988.
The incident was only resolved with a plea deal of ZAR15,000 (about $1,000) and the vessel was able to depart from Durban the same night. If prosecuted in South Africa, each seafarer could be fined up to ZAR2m or be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Gard said that the practice of unlicensed leisure fishing was becoming a concern to the authorities around the world. “Ship’s crew are therefore recommended to not engage in fishing activities unless proper permits have been obtained” the club said.