Press Statement on the Disappearance of the Icelandic Chartered Fishing Vessels

04 Feb 2020

Namport Press Statement

RESPONSE TO MEDIA REPORTS REGARDING THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE ICELANDIC CHARTERED FISHING VESSELS THAT LEFT NAMIBIA

The Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) has taken note of the recent media reports regarding the disappearance of the fishing vessels F/V Saga (a Namibian registered vessel) and F/V Geyser (a foreign registered vessel) from the Port of Walvis Bay. Recognising the public interest in this matter, and more importantly to ensure that the public is provided with the correct information, Namport hereby wishes to provide clarity on the processes that led to the release of the vessels from the Port of Walvis Bay.

Namport as an authority is mandated to manage and exercise control over the operation of ports, lighthouses and other navigational aids in Namibia and its territorial waters; as well as to provide facilities and services normally related to the functioning of a port. The movement of vessels into and out of port limits is managed by Namport under the leadership of the port Captain and the vessel traffic is managed by Port Control.

All Namibian or foreign fishing vessels operating in Namibian waters are licensed by the Ministry of Fisheries to catch fish. The fisheries ministry has a monitoring system to monitor all vessels fishing in the Namibian water. Accordingly, all approvals for fishing vessels to enter and leave Namibian waters is given by Ministry of Fisheries.

The Directorate of Maritime Affairs (DMA) is the custodian of the Namibian waters in terms of safety of navigation, pollution, and search and rescue for all vessels (fishing or otherwise) entering or leaving Namibian waters. Accordingly, DMA is the authority that gives final approval for a vessel to enter or leave Namibian waters.

Namport therefore only permits vessels to enter or leave the port limits upon approval from both Ministry of Fisheries and DMA (in the case of fishing vessels) or from DMA (in the case on non-fishing vessels).

Regarding the F/V Heineste (a Namibian registered vessel), Namport received a court order to move the fishing vessel to a designated area within port limits. This instruction was executed in line with the Namibian Ports Authority Act No. 2 of 1994, 15(1)(c) (as amended), which obligates Namport “to direct that any ship in a port which has been attached by order of court be moved to a designated place within the port, and, if necessary, to move such ship to such place”.

This order was carried out as instructed. To this end, the fishing vessel F/V Heineste is still alongside berth and continues to be monitored as per the court order conditions.

In the case of the F/V Saga and F/V Geysir, the clearance for both fishing vessels was done according to procedure. Namport carried out the necessary due diligence in order to comply with the Port Regulations and the Namibian Merchant Shipping Act, and requested for all the clearance certificates from the agents before releasing the fishing vessels. The following documents were presented to Port Control before clearance was granted for both fishing vessels, as per normal procedure:

1.         Ministry of Fisheries clearance

2.         Department of Maritime Affairs clearance

3.         Namibian police clearance

It is therefore important to highlight that the matter of the F/V Saga and F/V Geysir is different in that they were in port limits and subsequently left after being given all relevant approvals from both DMA and Ministry of Fisheries. There was no court order to arrest these two fishing vessels, so Namport had no obligation to detain them.

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