Madagascar: Chinese fishing fleet approved for trawling but doubt remains as to possible history of illegal fishing and dubious ownership documents
"CHINESE TRAWLERS GRANTED FISHING RIGHTS IN MADAGASCAR HAVE HISTORY OF ILLEGAL FISHING AND FORGED DOCUMENTS" 24 February 2022
A fleet of Chinese vessels which was previously caught fishing illegally in West Africa has been approved for trawling by the Malagasy authorities. Under Malagasy regulations, no vessel with a history of illegal fishing should be allowed to fish in the country’s waters unless there is proof of a change in ownership. However, vessel documents used by the ships, which were obtained by the EJF team, appear to be forged, raising major issues regarding the ownership of the trawlers. We urge the government to safeguard local livelihoods and food security by rescinding the fishing rights before the trawl season begins in March. [...]
In 2020, authorities in the Gambia arrested three of the fleet — Gorde 105, Gorde 106, and Gorde 107 — for fishing illegally in waters reserved for small-scale fishers. Two of the three were also ‘double-bagging’ their nets, in violation of Gambian fisheries regulations.
The vessels’ journey to Madagascar, which was facilitated in part by the Chinese navy, was punctuated by a stop in the Seychelles in May 2021, when they anchored without permission and were brought in for inspection. At the time, the captains produced documents to claim that they had legitimate business in the region; however, we have now found that the documents were forged, raising questions about the vessels’ true identity. [...]