Image: The 50 Illegal Fishermen being detained at the Waigani District Court house cells
The Waigani National Court has sentenced 50 illegal Vietnamese fishermen to 4 years imprisonment with hard labour.
District Court Magistrate, John Kaumi delivered the verdict with a strong message saying their sentence must be a warning to other illegal fishermen from the Asian region.
The verdict was handed down at the Bomana District Court House this morning.
All 50 men appeared before magistrate John Kaumi with individual charges.
The three captains of the illegal fishing vessels were sentenced to 4 years imprisonment or to pay a court fine of K50,000 each for the three charges they were convicted of.
The 47 crew members were also sentenced to 4 years for one count of illegal fishing of sea cucumbers under the National Fisheries Management Act 1998, of Papua New Guinea.
The 50 men were apprehended on 22 December 2016, 200 nautical miles off Milne Bay’s provincial capital, Alotau.
They were transported to Port Moresby and first mentioned on January 23, 2017.
They all pleaded guilty to their charges and have been in custody since their apprehension.
Magistrate Kaumi commended the PNG Defence Force Naval officers and the NFA for successfully prosecuting this case.
“If PNG people cannot touch the sea cucumbers in their own seas, who are they to help themselves to sea cucumbers,” Kaumi said
He furthered explained to the 50 convicts that they cannot blame anyone else for their conviction but themselves.
Furthermore, court orders were given to NFA to destroy the illegal fishing vessels after 30 days of berthing and all exhibits to be forfeited to NFA.