By Mustapha Jallow
The permanent secretary at the Department of Fisheries has told Foroyaa that none of the cases involving intercepted vessels have been taken to court for prosecution.
He said the approach they have been using since 2017 was ‘out of court settlement.’
Dr. Bamba A.M Banja said this in an interview with this paper on 15th November 2019 at his office in Banjul.
“Since 2017, we have not taken any intercepted vessel to the judiciary. We have been handling these cases out of court,’’ the PS said.
Several foreign vessels were intercepted by The Gambia Government for fishing in a wrong zone and or without proper documentation.
He made this statement following the recent interception of vessels owned by Qunlong Fishing Enterprise.
He explained that a committee comprising the Ministry of Fisheries, Gambian Navy, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Trade, Gambia Maritime and Ministry of Finance usually discuss whenever a vessel (s) is intercepted and come-up with imposition of fine on any intercepted vessel.
He added: “The community would sit and discus, then come up with a fine – these steps are also communicated to the Minister of Fisheries, the agent and the vessel owner. Once payment is done, we write to the Navy to release the vessel (s).’’
Dr. Banja said the fines are paid into Fisheries Development Fund and 30 percent of the fine goes to the Navy. He said another 30 percent goes to the Central Government.
He further explained that, “With respect to licenses, 10 percent goes to the Fisheries Development Fund that we use to develop the sector while the other percentage goes to the Consultative Revenue Fund.’’
He continued, “There are Chinese investment vessels that have been localise and registered with the Gambia Maritime.
In conclusion, the PS confirmed that three foreign vessels are still under their custody, awaiting the payment of fines imposed on them by their committee.