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Tanzania Jails IUU Tuna Captain For 20 Years

Two of the five foreigners accused of illegal fishing in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) waters were on Thursday sentenced by the Tanzanian High Court to 20 years imprisonment or alternatively pay TZS 21 billion (USD 13.3 million) fine each.

Three of their colleagues were set free. The duo, both of them Chinese nationals, are the Captain of the ship, Hsu Chin Tai and the vessel’s agent, Zhao Hanquing. The court also ordered that the ship, christened Tawaliq used in the illegal fishing be nationalized.

The court issued no order for the confiscated tuna fish as it had already been distributed to various institutions for free. The vessel’s engineers, Hsu Sheing Pao, Cai Dong Li and Chen Rui Hai were set free.
Reading out the judgment, Justice Augustine Mwarija said the prosecution had proven the case beyond any reasonable doubt that the Chinese committed the offence.
“The fishing boat used fake names and permits. It will now be confiscated,” said Judge Mwarija. He said the captain and agent were guilty as they were responsible for obtaining relevant permits before embarking on fishing. On environmental pollution, the judge said the seized fish was clean, which implied that its waste was dumped into the Indian Ocean.

Earlier, State Attorney Biswalo Muganga prayed for a stiff punishment to the accused and confiscation of the ship, as a warning to people who might be harboring similar motives. The defense counsel led by Ibrahim Bendera prayed for leniency considering the good relationship enjoyed by China and Tanzania, and the length of time the accused spent in remand prison.

Thirty-one co-accused persons were set free in July last year after spending two years in remand. Another co-accused, a Kenyan national died in remand after a long illness.