The Nigerian Navy has arrested two fishing trawlers named ORC 5 and Cynthia belonging to ORC Fishing and Food Processing Limited along the Brass coastline in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
Also arrested were 26 crew members including four foreigners for allegedly carrying out illegal fishing activities within the restricted distance of five nautical miles off the Nigerian coastline.
Handing over the vessels with all 26 crew members to the Federal Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Nigeria Navy Brass Commanding Base Officer, FORMOSO, Capt, Suleiman Ibrahim, on Tuesday said the Navy detected the illegal activities of the two fishing vessels with the use of ‘Maritime Domain Awareness Equipment’ trawling within the ‘5 Nautical Miles’ restricted zones, and deployed same to intercept them.
Capt. Ibrahim, who disclosed that the area was supposed to be used by local fishermen and not bigger vessels to avoid conflicts with the locals, regretted that the trawler operators deliberately violated the regulations as they are aware of the regulations and its implications if violated.
He, however, pointed out that further investigations will be done by the relevant authorities and if they are found culpable will face the law accordingly.
In a remarks, the Assistant Director, Monitoring Control and Surveillance Unit of the Federal Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Paul Opoama, while confirming the handing over of the suspects and the 2 vessels arrested by the Navy, noted that with the collaboration with Navy, illegality within the Nigerian territorial waters will be nipped in the bud.
The captain of the ORC 5 Vessel, Olayeye Ejagbomo, and the captain of the other vessel named Cynthia, Ayemobuma Omosuyi, claimed that they lost communication signals with their company, which resulted in their trespassing into the restricted area.