onsdag 17. februar 2021

Chinese fishing captains face jail, big fines for alleged illegal fishing in Vanuatu

The captains of two Chinese fishing vessels accused of illegal fishing and carrying driftnets in Vanuatu waters face up to five years in prison and millions of dollars in fines, but the ships’ owner insists the charges are baseless and “at no time were our vessels undertaking commercial fishing in Vanuatu waters”.

The 14 officers and crew of the Dong Gangxing 13 and Dong Gangxing 16 were bailed on Tuesday after more than a month in police custody. They have been placed under house arrest at a hotel in Port Vila and their passports confiscated.

The fishers were intercepted in January near Hiu island in Vanuatu’s northern waters and held in quarantine for 14 days before being interrogated and charged. All have been charged with offences under Vanuatu’s Fisheries Act, but only the ship masters, Chen You and Yang Dachao, face imprisonment or fines. Among a raft of charges, they are accused of fishing illegally and possessing a driftnet.