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Tanzanian Case Shows Problems In Listing Tuna Vessels As IUU Tanzania, March 15, 12

After the captain and agent of MV Tawariq 1 were found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison or pay TZS 21 billion (USD 13.3 million) fine with the ship nationalized following a High Court verdict last February, the government can now notify the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) for all vessels of the same company to be blacklisted.

The IOTC Executive Secretary, Mr. Alejandro Anganuzzi said in Dar es Salaam over the weekend that the family of MV Tawariq 1, which belongs to an Oman company, Mohammed Almoslimani Trade EST has a history of illegal fishing as Japan had also complained against its vessels in 2007.

Mr. Anganuzzi said the country can seek the blacklisting of the Oman registered vessels by submitting its complaint to the IOTC’s compliance committee. “The Secretariat cannot make those types of decisions. It is the 28 member states who decide. The Secretariat is responsible for helping the members to communicate with each other, but cannot make decisions for the members,” Mr. Anganuzzi noted while responding to Business Standard questions as to why MV Tawariq vessels are not being blacklisted. The IOTC Executive Secretary said the right institution to advance the country’s case would have been the Deep Sea Fishing Authority (DSFA).

The World Bank estimated that Tanzania loses over 220 million US dollars per annum to illegal fishing vessels operating in its exclusive economic zone in the Indian Ocean. MV Tawariq 1 was arrested in 2009 by a Southern African Development Community (SADC) joint patrol boat led by South Africa with over 70 tons of tuna fish. The Kisutu Resident Magistrate Court released several crews but jailed the captain and the ship’s agent after finding them guilty of illegally fishing in the country’s waters.

“If a boat is removed by the members it means that the vessel cannot fish in the Indian Ocean, cannot unload fish in ports of the IOTC members, cannot be licensed by IOTC members and fish caught by such a vessel should be traded by members,” Mr. Anganuzzi said.

The High Court sentenced MV Tawariq 1 Captain, Hsu Chin Tai and its agent, Zhao Hanguing to pay the fines or go to jail for 20 years. Mr. Tai was also fined TZS 20 billion for pollution. When the vessel was arrested in 2009, three other vessels belonging to the same company escaped. In 2007, Japan sought IOTC members’ approval to blacklist the Oman family of vessels which are notorious for illegal fishing after detaining one within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

But Mr. Anganuzzi said before Japan court filed its complaint with IOTC members, Oman came to the defense of its registered vessels and the two countries resolved the matter between themselves. An official at DSFA said it’s not easy for the country to seek the blacklisting of the entire family of the Oman fishing vessels because only one was arrested and has since been nationalized.

“Seeking to blacklist the entire fleet of the company’s vessels needs complaints from several IOTC members such as Japan which had also suffered similar assaults earlier,” the official who declined to be identified, pointed out. Green Peace has also called for the blacklisting of the notorious Oman registered fishing vessels because of their notoriety in illegal fishing, saying Japan had better pursued the matter with IOTC in 2007 other than bulge to Oman’s pleas.

Green Peace which maintains a list of blacklisted fishing vessels on its own database, said it will blacklist the Mv Tawariq 1 after the Kisutu Magistrate Court’s sentencing. In a letter seeking to blacklist the Tawariq fleet and remove them from IOTC list of authorized tuna trawlers, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, had said all the four vessels, Tawari 1, 2, 3 and 6 were at different periods operating illegally within Tokyo’s territorial waters.

“According to reliable sources, besides the four Oman vessels mentioned in my previous letter dated July 20, it turned out that the fishing vessel Muran (IOTC 006955), is the same vessel as Yu Mann Won, which is on the current list of IOTC IUU vessels list,” wrote the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture in a letter dated June 28, 2007.

Oman however defended the four fishing vessels as having no history of illegal unregulated and unregistered (IUU) activities hence contesting Japan’s position seeking the blacklisting of the vessels. “We have checked the mentioned four vessels history and confirmed that the vessels have no previous IUU activities. Therefore would kindly request facilitating receipt of these vessels fish consignment by Japanese authorities as per the approved regulations of legal fishing,” wrote the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Sultanate of Oman in a letter to IOTC dated July 24, 2007.

The four fishing vessels were Tawariq 1, which was previously known as Ondin Malagasy, Tawariq 2 also known as Golden Fortune, Tawariq 3 also known as Breave No1, which were all registered in Madagascar and Tawariq 6 which was also known as Yu Chen Hiaseng 168 and was previously registered in Taiwan.