Mozambican authorities have this week announced the confiscation of the fishing vessel Nessa 7. In addition, the owner, Anthony Rowan Pentz, has been ordered to pay a fine of USD 94 000 while its captain, Anthony Clement, has been banned from fishing in Mozambican waters for 36 months.

Now the property of the State, the Nessa 7 is set to become a fisheries patrol vessel joining the Antillas Reefer, also seized as a result of illegal fishing in Mozambican waters, in 2008.

Per Erik Bergh of Stop Illegal Fishing welcomed the news ‘the Nessa 7 has a track record of involvement in illegal fishing activity. It seems fair that it will now build Mozambique’s capacity to patrol their waters and protect their fish stocks.’

The national Director of Operations in the Ministry of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries, Leonild Chimarizene confirmed that the Nessa 7, call Sign NºHP3125, was sighted in Mozambique’s EEZ on 29th December 2015. An initial inspection identified a raft of potential illegalities and infringements.

‘From the inspection and investigations made’, said Chimarizene, ‘it was shown that the vessel entered Mozambican waters without any communication or prior authorization by the relevant Mozambican authorities. It was hiding identity marks, and was exercising activities concerned with fishing, without authorization. On board it possessed gear for longline fishing of tuna. The boat was not flying any flag, although a Panamanian flag was found on board. Nor was it displaying any registration number.’

Taken into the port of Maputo the identity of the Nessa 7 was established as being the former Naham 4, bought by Pentz from the South African authorities following the vessels seizure in 2013 for operating on false documents and linked to a significant case of multiple identities, where up to five vessels were thought to be operating and fishing using one identity.

Identified by the FISH-i Africa Task Force as a high risk vessel, alerts had been issued relating to the Nessa 7 ahead of its detention in Mozambique. FISH-i Africa had tracked the vessel from Cape Town to Durban to South America prior to her arrival in Lüderitz, Namibia in December 2015. The vessel received permission from the Namibian Department of Maritime Affairs (DMA) to anchor outside port limits and receive stores. They chose to arrive at 22h00 on the 9 December and were supplied on 10th December (a public holiday in Namibia) and were gone before midday, heading for Maputo, Mozambique.

Both the crew and the Captain are assumed to be nationals of Myamar. Crew members revealed to a source that the Nessa 7 was on an undercover mission to hunt for pirates in the Indian Ocean, and this was the reason for the rather neglected appearance of the vessel.

The FISH-i Africa Task Force countries of Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and the United Republic of Tanzania have recently been joined by Somalia, further strengthening the reach of the network who have been sharing information and coordinating actions to enable a united response to illegal operators.

Benedict Kiilu, Kenya commented, ‘It is clear that these vessels are very elaborate in covering themselves to try and continue committing fishing crimes especially in the Western Indian Ocean. But we are alert and will constantly watch out.’