Image: The 50 illegal Vietnamese fishermen where sentenced by Magistrate Kaumi for yours prison
Over the last three years, the Courts in Papua New Guinea has seen an increase in illegal fishing cases in PNG waters.
Waigani District Court magistrate, John Kaumi raised this concern when sentencing 50 Vietnamese men convicted for illegal fishing, last Friday.
Magistrate Kaumi said tougher penalties must be given to convicts to minimise illegal fishing activities in PNG.
Illegal fishing is the act of conducting fishing activities in a country without the consent of appropriate authorities.
In 2015, the District and National Courts recorded 72 cases of illegal fishing in PNG.
The court cases tripled in 2016 when the courts prosecuted 202 cases of illegal fishing.
Following this increase, the National Fisheries Authority lobbied for the passing a Parliament act which gives more power to NFA to punish illegal fishermen.
Through this Act, the Waigani District Court sentenced 50 Vietnamese to four years imprisonment with hard labour or pay a court fine of K50,000 each for the three captains and K20,000 each for the 47 crew members.
These 50 men were convicted of illegal fishing of sea cucumbers, in Milne Bay province, last December.
Magistrate Kaumi explained that illegal fishing is a very serious international crime.
Thus the sentencing of the 50 men must be a warning to other illegal fishermen in the country.
Papua New Guinea has over 15 Maritime Provinces. Seven of them lie between the Australian, Indonesian and Solomon Islands international borders.
And because PNG has almost 600 islands and atolls, it becomes expensive for NFA and the PNG Defence Force to survey all islands for illegal fishing vessels.