Namport brings clarity
Due processes followed
04 February 2020 | Fishing
Following allegations that two vessels linked to the Fishrot scandal had snuck out of the Port of Walvis Bay, the port authority provided clarity on the processes that led to the release of the vessels linked to the Icelandic fishing company Samherji.
Geysir left for Mauritania on Sunday evening while Saga left Namibian waters on Wednesday.
According to Namport, both the F/V Saga and F/V Geysir were in port limits but departed after gaining all relevant approvals from both the Directorate of Maritime Affairs (DMA) and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR).
Namport said that there was no court order detaining the two fishing vessels, so the port authority had no obligation to stop them from departing.
However, the port authority confirmed that it had received a court order to move the F/V Heineste, which is a Namibian registered vessel, to a designated area within port limits. This followed after Namibian Police seized Heinaste on 22 November 2019 when it entered and illegally fished in Namibian waters.
This instruction was executed in line with the Namibian Ports Authority Act No. 2 of 1994, 15(1)(c) (as amended), which obligates Namport “to direct that any ship in a port which has been attached by order of court be moved to a designated place within the port, and, if necessary, to move such ship to such place”.
This order was carried out as instructed. To this end, the fishing vessel F/V Heineste is still berthed and continues to be monitored as per the court order conditions.
In the case of the F/V Saga which is Namibian registered and F/V Geysir, a foreign registered vessel, the clearance for both fishing vessels was done according to procedure.
Namport said that due diligence was carried out to comply with Port Regulations and the Namibian Merchant Shipping Act, and requested all clearance certificates from the agents before releasing the vessels.
Clearance from the MFMR, the DMA and Namibian Police were presented to port control before actual clearance was granted for both vessels, as per normal procedure.
The port authority emphasised that it only permits vessels to enter or leave the port limits upon approval from both the MFMR and DMA (in the case of fishing vessels) or from DMA (in the case on non-fishing vessels).
The movement of vessels into and out of port limits is managed by the port authority under the leadership of the port captain and the vessel traffic is managed by the port control division.
All Namibian or foreign fishing vessels operating in Namibian waters are licensed by the Ministry of Fisheries to catch fish. Vessels are monitored while fishing in the Namibian water. Accordingly, all approvals for fishing vessels to enter and leave Namibian waters is granted by the MFMR.
DMA is the custodian of the Namibian waters in terms of safety of navigation, pollution, and search and rescue for all vessels (fishing or otherwise) entering or leaving Namibian waters. Accordingly, DMA is the authority that gives final approval for a vessel to enter or leave Namibian waters.