How Nigeria Loses $70m to Illegal Fishing by Chinese Vessels

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Chiemelie Ezeobi

The Nigeria Navy has disclosed that the country loses as much as $70milion annually to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), activities of some Chinese Fishing vessels in the maritime domain.

These Chinese vessels, THISDAY gathered, usually come as close as four nautical miles to the coast, which is illegal, thus depriving local fishermen of the resources.
This was disclosed when a delegation from the German Armed Forces General Staff College visited the Western Naval Command (WNC) headquarters in Lagos, recently.

According to the WNC Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Rear Admiral Sylvanus Abbah, the perpetrators usually come as close as four nautical miles to the coast.

He said such acts are not allowed, further adding that by so doing, they deprive local fishermen of the resources they ought to accrue to them.
Although Abbah said there was significant reduction in unregulated fishing, he noted that this was because a lot of vessels had been arrested for IUU and handed over to relevant authorities.

He said: “The command went to work and started arresting vessels without fishing license. Any vessel that does not respond to our fishing codes or without authorised licenses are apprehended and handed over to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.

“Even those with licenses are also arrested if they are found to be acting against the terms of their licenses in line with the Harmonised Standard Operating Procedures of arrests and prosecution of vessels and persons in Nigeria’s maritime domain.”

On measures put in place to ameliorate the effects of piracy, he said Lagos waters were relatively safe as the command recorded only case of piracy, which they recorded a break through by rescuing the victims and arresting the Pirates.

“To ameliorate the effects of piracy, we have put together a safe anchorage area in a general axis on Lagos waters and we have deployed vessels to protect them. “If others can buy into this method, it will go a long way to fight piracy and ensure protection of our vessels”, he stressed.
Meanwhile, the Defence Attaché, Colonel Thomas Brillisauer said that plans had been concluded for Germany to donate five Epenal Boats to the Nigerian Navy (NN).

He said the boats, which were built at the Naval Shipyard Limited in Port Harcourt, would be handed over to the NN in a few weeks’ time to aid the service’s fight against oil theft and other maritime crimes.
According to him, Germany was open to donate more boats as its assistance to the NN to boost its presence within the Niger Delta and the Lake Chad regions, adding that Epenal Boats were chosen because the navy already had similar ones in its fleet and understood its functionality.