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Navy arrest Fishing Vessel, 15 Crew over Illegal Fishing; Says partnership with inter-agencies for protection of Nigerian Waters.

The Nigerian Navy has said that its inter-agency collaborations, which were already yielding positive results, were focused on ensuring the safety of the Nigerian maritime environment for economic development to thrive.  

Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Navy Forward Operating Base (FOB), Bonny, Navy Captain Tahir Ngada said this on Tuesday in a statement shortly after handing over a fishing vessel, FV STARFISH to the Federal Department of Fisheries in Bonny, Rivers State.

In the statement made available to newsmen, the Navy said the fishing vessel, FV STARFISH was arrested alongside her 15 member crew for illegal fishing in Nigerian waters.

Navy Capt. Ngada, represented by the Regulating Officer, FOB, Nigerian Navy, Bonny, Lt. Philip Ojediran, handed over the vessel and her 15 member crew to a Field Officer in Federal Department of Fisheries, Mrs. Joy James earlier on Tuesday.  

The statement noted that the operation was in line with its maritime law enforcement efforts and contribution to curbing illegal activities in the nation’s maritime environment for national economic development.

“In line with Nigerian Navy maritime law enforcement efforts, FV STAR FISH with her 15 crew were arrested by FOB Bonny on 10 August 2020 during an anti-illegal fishing patrol.”

The vessel was laden with about 15 tons (155 bags) of fish as at time of arrest and preliminary investigation established that the vessel was engaged in fishing without appropriate license.”

“In line with extant laws, FV STAR FISH was handed over on 24 August 2020 to the Federal Department of Fisheries by Navy Captain Tahir Ngada (Commanding Officer FOB Bonny) for further investigation and prosecution.

“The arrest and handover of the vessel for prosecution is an indication of the Nigerian Navy’s contribution to curbing illegal activities in our maritime environment for national economic development.”

The Nigerian Navy further revealed that the collaboration with the Federal Department of Fisheries was a cordial one that had continued to yield positive results as two other fishing vessels have previously been handed to the agency by the Navy.  

“Moreso, the cordial relationship between the Nigerian Navy and the Department of Fisheries has continued to yielded positive results as FOB Bonny recently handed over two fishing vessels (FV BANARLY and FV OLOKUN) for similar offences.”

Navy Capt. Ngada reiterated the resolve of the Nigerian Navy to checkmate acts of criminality in Nigeria’s territorial waters in pursuit of its constitutional mandate to assure nationals security and economic development.  

“Notably the arrest and prosecution of these vessels will serve as deterrent to criminals who illegally exploit the vast resources in Nigerian maritime environment.”

“This further amplifies Nigerian Navy’s resolve in carrying out its constitutional mandate, geared towards national security and economic development.”   

Mrs. Joy James told Kristina Reports, shortly after receiving the arrested vessel, that preliminary findings by the Nigerian Navy indicate that the vessel lacked the required licenses from the relevant regulatory agencies to operate, stating that her department would carry out further investigation into the matter and decide on further actions.

She maintained that it was an offence to fish in Nigerian waters without the requisite registrations and documentation, asserting that potential investors in the nation’s maritime environment should ensure they do the right thing before venturing into such.

On his part, owner of the arrested vessel, Yemi Ogunbiyi stated that his company, Yankee Supreme Oil and Marine Services had applied to the Federal Department of Fisheries, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and other relevant agencies and also paid for the required licenses but were yet to get the relevant registration documents.

“We have applied for these registrations and also paid for them but we are yet to get these licenses from them. The vessel was not fishing but being test run for maintenance purposes. We do not have any intentions to violate the relevant laws of the country.”

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