by Mickey Kavera – EM TV, Port Moresby
Five fishing vessels from Thailand were apprehended in Papua New Guinea’s extended exclusive economic zone, west of Daru, Western Province. The area is known locally as the Dog Leg group of Islands, bordering Papua New Guinea, Australia and Indonesia.
The vessels were apprehended between 17 and 19 October 2014. This morning the vessels were escorted in from Daru and are currently anchored at PNGDF Lancron Naval Base in Port Moresby.
The vessels have been illegally fishing in the area for a period of time, while avoiding PNG Customs and National Fisheries Authorities.
Various contrabands and a firearm were found on the vessels.
They were apprehended by Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldiers patrolling the area on board the PNGDF Naval ship, Seeadler.
The PNGDF Sea Surveillance team received initial instructions to track down the mother ship PNG 249. It has been evading PNG Customs, while loitering out at sea without any clearance to enter PNG waters.
The vessels were found to have no vessel monitoring system or VMS installed to allow the National Fisheries Authority to regulate their fishing activities in the country.
Its apprehension by the PNGDF Sea Surveillance team was hailed a success by the PNG Customs Commissioner, Ray Paul, who was present at the PNGDF Naval Base this morning with his officers to inspect the ship.
PNGDF personells told EM TV the office of the managing director of NFA has contradicted itself by communicating directly with the vessel owner and the captain of the ship for its release.
The vessels will be handed over to PNG Customs and the National Fisheries Authority for further investigation before any charges can be laid.
A news conference will be held by the authorities on Wednesday 29 October, to give a full update on the investigations.