South Africa has charged three Chinese skippers with fishing in South African with no permission and evading the law.
Dianxin Jiang‚ 57‚ skipper of hi-tech fishing vessel Fu Yuan Yu 7880‚ Baohua Qi‚ 40‚ skipper of Fu Yuang Yu 7881 and Jianbo Yu‚ 46‚ skipper of Run Da 617‚ appeared in district magistrate Robyn Tyler’s A Court in East London.
They face three charges of possessing fishing product and equipment without a permit‚ failing to obey an order from fisheries officers to stop their vessels‚ and possessing fishing gear in South Africa’s exclusive economic zone without a permit.
They did not plead and Tyler released them on condition that they do not leave their vessels‚ which are berthed in East London’s port.
If they had to leave‚ this had to be with permission from the Hawks‚ who have taken over the case from a range of government departments.
The accused‚ who appeared in casual clothes‚ looked slightly bewildered and‚ when asked by their attorney‚ well-known East London resident‚ Peter Allam‚ if the court session could be videoed‚ said they had no objection.
The charges‚ conditions of release‚ and their next court appearance were carefully explained to each skipper by an interpreter speaking Mandarin under the instruction of the magistrate.
The chairwoman of the East London Chinese Association‚ Lequin Zhu‚ who was in the gallery with a friend‚ said the local Chinese community was there to provide interpretation and communication.
“They do not speak English at all‚” she said.
The three foreign-owned fishing trawlers allegedly looted 600 tons of lucrative South African chokka (squid) valued at R70m as well as tons of fish from Eastern Cape waters.
On Monday‚ the South African government sent fisheries vessels backed with naval muscle to capture the two smart new industrial-strength Chinese fishing vessels – the Fu Yuan Yu 7880 and Fu Yang Yu 7881 – and a rusty Indonesian fishing vessel‚ Run Da 617.
Dino Moodley‚ chairman of the SA Squid Management Industrial Association‚ put the value of the catch at R70m “because there is such a shortage”.
“Our season only opens up on July 1. We are trying to protect our resources and here you have these foreign vessels coming in and catching‚” he said.