By Mustapha Jallow
Dr. Bamba A.M Banja, the permanent secretary of the Department of Fisheries has told Foroyaa that 70% of the foreign vessels intercepted by the Navy were found operating in zones reserved for artisanal fishers in the Gambia.
“70 percent of the intercepted vessels were all found fishing in the wrong zone. We have never intercepted any vessel fishing without a license. So all the vessels that have been intercepted were issued with a license,” he said.
According to Dr. Banja, these licensed foreign vessels were supposed to fish from nine-nautical miles to 12 to the high sea. He added that the zone where these vessels were asked to fish was also stated on their license. He said if any vessels failed to stick to what was stated on their licenses, they would be intercepted and fined accordingly.
“This reserved area is for the small scale Fishers and vessels are not allowed to fish there,’’ he said.
He added: “Industrial fishers are allowed to fish starting from nine to 12 miles to the high sea.’’
He continued, “If they are fishing in wrong-zone, we trace them through teleology from the automatic identification system.”
He said, “We will continue to engage our partners such as Sea Shepherd to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in our waters.”
When asked how much has been derived from the ‘out of court settlement’ and the court fines, the Fisheries PS said he cannot tell off-head, but referred the reporter to what he called Monitoring Control Surveillance (MCS).