Kenya: Tana officials impound illegal fishing trawler
Fishery officers in Kipini, Tana River County, pursue a vessel caught illegally fishing.
A shrimp trawler, MV Roberto, was suspended from fishing on Sunday after the local community and fishermen sounded the alarm about dead turtles washing up on shore.
According to the county fisheries director, Evan Nyarango, the vessel trawled shallow water fish around known turtle breeding grounds near Ziwayu, against the fisheries management law, and was heavily laden with illegal catches.
“They had a lot of young fish, including 43 young sharks on board, which is illegal according to the laws governing fishing in our country and even in the county,” he said.
He noted that the vessel did not have a turtle exclusion device, nor any type of bycatch reduction device on its net, which is essential to prevent the harvest of minor fish and globally protected turtles. .
In addition, the vessel had a surplus of crew numbered 18 instead of the stipulated 16.
“The crew said they were looking for shrimp, but based on our investigations, we only found 10 percent shrimp in the total catch,” he said.
Officers arrested the captain of the ship which had been booked for the Kipini police station in the hope that the ship would remain in place pending further investigations.
However, one of the crew members up to the captain’s task allegedly led the trawler to dock towards the waters of Malindi.
“We have made contact with the Coast Guard to help us locate the ship on the Malindi side and take action against the crew members,” Nyarango said.
The director called on residents to remain vigilant in protecting fish landing sites along the 76 km of coastline of the Tana River.
The trawler’s captain has since been released on a cash bond of 20,000 shillings and is expected to appear before the Garsen High Court on Wednesday.