The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism has seized the Chien Jui No 102, a Taiwanese flagged vessel, after tons of sharks and dried shark fins were confiscated by departmental fishery control inspectors. The vessel is alleged to have provided false information in its application for an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) permit. The EEZ permit allows foreign fishing vessels to enter our waters and ports with its fishing catch and fishing gear, subject to permit conditions. The EEZ of South Africa is a 200 nautical mile (370km) extension of its land territory out into sea.
In its EEZ application, Chien Jui No 102 declared 100kg of shark fins. However, inspectors confiscated more than 1.6 tons of dried shark fins from the vessel, the biggest alleged illegal consignment during recent years. This amount of dried shark fin suggests that at least 30 tons of sharks were caught. During the discharge process earlier today, Saturday 14 March 2009, a total of 5,1 tons shark trunks were off loaded. The Chien Jui No 102 permit application declared that 2,2 tons of sharks were onboard the vessel.
In addition, the Chien Jui No 102 has contravened international fishing conservation measures, as set out by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which prescribe that shark fins onboard fishing vessels should not exceed five percent of the weight of shark trunks onboard the same vessel, up to the point of landing. Fishing vessels are prohibited from retaining on board, transhipping or landing any fins harvested in contravention of these measures.
The department is in the process of finalising its charges against the Chien Jui No 102. The vessel will remain in the Cape Town harbour until the finalisation of the case. The vessel, Chien Jui No 102, will be black-listed on the Illegal, Unregulated Unreported (IUU) fishing list of vessels involved in illegal fishing practice.
Shark fining is fuelled by big profit margins with shark fins estimated to fetch between US and 400 to 700 per kilogram.