THE Forty three (43) Vietnamese fish poachers who were apprehended by the Solomon Islands Maritime Police at Indispensable Reef of the Coast of Rennell Island on Thursday night were on Wednesday detained at Rove while investigations are underway.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Gwen Ratu during a media outdoor conference at Aola Base wharf said, the Vietamese fish poachers will be investigated for illegal fishing and trespassing into Solomon Islands territorial waters.
“They are now under police care at Rove Police Headquarter.
“We have gathered substantial evidence today (yesterday) and expected to be completed and submitted to Attorney General Office by Friday,” Ms Ratu told local reporters.
Ms Gwen Ratu said the exercise showed the government capacity to combat illegal fishing in our waters.
“The operations have been successful with collaborative effort of RSIPF, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Attorney General Office, Customs, Bio-security and Environmental health,” Ms Ratu adds.
Under Secretary of National Fisheries Feral Lasi also added on that the investigations are going on smoothly.
“We started today (Wednesday) soon after the ships were escorted by the patrol boats and moored here.
“Customs were first to clear the vessel before the inspectors climb on board and do the search and confiscation.”
MrLasi said the head-on inspections today find out marine species and lots of food stuff.
“Inside the freezers were sea cucumbers and a load of mainly three fish species- tiger fish, white teeth fish and pineapple fish.
“So the findings will be forwarded to the Attorney General Office as they are the ones who will deal with the poachers accordingly to local laws and international EEZ treaty,” MrLasi said.
The ministry fishery under Permanent Secretary said they received reports of the blue boats from their officers.
“We were informed by one of the observers on board an NFD purse seining vessel about the first sighting east coast of Malaita.
“While patrol boat Auki was dispatched, we received another independent report claiming the blue boats were sighted at the Eastern waters.
“So Director of Fisheries immediately request aerial surveillance assistance from the QUAD team.
“France responds swiftly by air-borne a scout surveillance plane from New Caledonia and they provide to us the exact pin point location of the illegal fishing boats,” MrLasi said.
Acting Director of Police Maritime Luke Vakwai revealed that the boats resisted arrest at the first contact forcing the patrol boat to threaten them.
“When the Auki patrol boat confronts them at Indispensable Reef, the Vietnamese fish poachers refused to surrender and stop.
“So we send in patrol boat Lata to help.
“The two patrol boats then resorted to use of firing tear gas and threatened to ram the boats.
“Finally they stopped and surrender,” MrVakwai said.
As evidence, one of the three boats has damages to its side bow.
Mr Vakwai said one of the blue boats managed to escape because of distance and under the cover of darkness.
By TEDDY KAFO