Italian Trawler Vessel Fishing Endangered Species Seized In Kenyan waters
Nairobi, 15th April 2021: An Italian trawler vessel, MV Roberto, was seized on April 11th, 2021 by the Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Fisheries Service in the Indian Ocean at Kipini, Tana River, Kenya.
On board the vessel were Critically Endangered fish species including Halavi Guitarfish (Glaucostegus halavi), young sharks and frozen baby sharks in its hold. It had been trawling in shallow waters, around turtles, fish and sharks breeding sites near Ziwayu Island.
The County Government of Tana River stated the vessel was found bottom trawling in shallow waters in contravention to the Fisheries Management and Development Act (FMDA) (35 of 2016). The vessel did not have a Turtle Excluder Device, or any type of bycatch reduction device on its netting to prevent off-take of underage fish and globally protected turtles and legally required for international exports.
WildlifeDirect is extremely dismayed that this vessel was operating with impunity against Kenyan Laws. “These animals will never be brought back to life which is why we look forward to seeing the full force of the law being applied to punish these criminals and to send a clear message to any others,” said WildlifeDirects CEO Dr Paula Kahumbu.
WildlifeDirect has been monitoring wildlife crime in the country’s courts and launched its 4th report on World Wildlife Day 2021 which included fisheries crimes in Kenya. In 2018/2019 we recorded twenty-one (21) cases of fishing/trading without a permit, eight (8) cases of fishing in a prohibited area and twenty-six (26) cases of non-compliance with regulations under the FMDA were recorded. We believe that these are an underestimation of the actual crimes.
We applaud the work of the local community and fishermen who raised the alarm when they detected depleted yields and dead turtles washing up on the shore when the trawler came in. We also applaud conservationist Raabia Hawa who mobilized the government agencies to act on those complaints. We also support the community in this area who have appealed to the government to ban trawling in Kipini to protect the marine environment and fisheries and we implore the Governor to act.
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WildlifeDirect is a Kenyan based conservation organization that has transformed anti-poaching results in Kenya through the award-winning conservation campaign “Hands Off Our Elephants” and the production of Africa wildlife documentaries. The vision of WildlifeDirect is changing hearts and minds and laws to ensure that Africa’s critical species endure forever. WildlifeDirect produces wildlife documentary series’ as part of its mission to connect people to their wildlife and nature and inspire them to treasure it and act to conserve it.