Authorities investigate two Chinese fishing vessels

The Vanuatu Government is investigating two Chinese fishing vessels and their crews with allegations they have broken Vanuatu’s border laws and current State of Emergency regulations.

The patrol ship, RVS Tukoro, seized the two fishing vessels in Torba Province, in the north of Vanuatu.

Fisheries Department Compliance Officer, Iakar Silas, says the department has conducted investigations into the activities of the two vessels and their crews.

He says, “We have inspected the vessels; checked all fishing gear, shipping documents and passport details; and have confirmed when these ships entered Vanuatu waters.”

“The crews are now in 14 days quarantine because they appear to have breached Vanuatu’s COVID-19 State of Emergency regulations entering the country,” Mr Silas said.

“Investigations will continue once the vessels’ crews are out of quarantine.

“Once the Government completes its investigations, it will submit a report to the Prosecution Office so this matter can go to court.

“The court will decide if the activities of these crews and fishing vessels did or did not break the law.”

The Director of the Customs Department, Harold Tarosa, says if the two vessels and crews are found to be guilty of breaking Vanuatu border laws and the active State of Emergency regulations, heavy penalties will be imposed.

“Any vessel wanting to enter Vanuatu must give 24-hours-notice before its arrival in this country,” Mr Tarosa said.

“This is set down in our Customs Act.”

The Commander for Vanuatu Maritime Wing, Collin Ioan Kalwatman, says RVS Tukoro escorted the two vessels into Port Vila Port and handed them over to the Fisheries Department for investigation.

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