A RUSSIAN skipper of a fishing vessel was freed on bail of N$100 000 after he was arrested in Walvis Bay late last week on charges of trawling for fish within two nautical miles of the Namibian shoreline.
Pavel Surodonkin made his first appearance in the Walvis Bay Magistrate’s Court on Monday and was freed on bail on condition that he hand in his passport to the investigating officer and report to the Walvis Bay Police Station one every two weeks until his trial is finalised.
The Russian skipper was arrested when the vessel he captains sailed into the port of Walvis Bay at the end of last week. It follows the arrest of one of his fellow countrymen earlier last week. In the first case one Yuri Suplatsov was arrested on similar charges and also freed on N$100 000 bail with the same conditions attached.
The arrest of the two Russian vessel masters follows days after Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhard Esau, addressed audiences at international fish conferences in Europe about the millions of dollars that the country invested in safe guarding its valuable fish resources.
Minister Esau spoke extensively about the scourge of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and the measures the country has taken to get rid of fish pirates that continues to operate within Namibian waters.
Esau also told the international audience at the fishing conferences that Namibia will do everything in its power prosecute perpetrators of IUU fishing in Namibian waters.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Fisheries Observer Agency, Stanley Ndara, said that the two Russian skippers’ actions in Namibian waters are amongst other evidence gathered, clearly reflected in their log sheets. He said the Russians were arrested after they trawled for horse mackerel in sensitive areas vital for the breeding and spawning Namibia’s most precious fish resource in the area of the Kunene river mouth and very close to the country’s shoreline.
Earlier this year the blatant theft of fish by foreign flagged fishing trawlers prompted direct action by the Namibian Navy.
The Namibian Navy Ship, Elephant, was spotted in the area between Cape Fria and the Kunene River mouth shortly after fish pirates were caught in the act of trawling vital horse mackerel breeding stock in the shallows.
At the time the presence of the Namibian warship saw the fish pirates sailing north for friendlier waters off the coast of Angola.