Russian vessel here for repair not mammals

16 Jan 2017 17:50pm
WALVIS BAY, 16 JAN (NAMPA) – The Namibian Ports Authority (NamPort) and Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources said the Russian fishing vessel, Ryazanovka, at the Port of Walvis Bay is not in Namibia to catch live mammals.
NamPort Acting Senior Manager Commercial, Elias Mwenyo and Ministry Permanent Secretary (PS), Moses Maurihungirire confirmed this to Nampa on Monday.
Over the past two months, speculations were rife in local newspapers that the vessel is catching live mammals such as seals, dolphins and sharks for export to the Chinese market without a permit.
Concerns were last month stoked when big nets normally used to catch mammals were spotted aboard the vessel.
Approached for comment, Mwenyo said the vessel came to the Port of Walvis Bay for repair and has for the past four months been at Anchorage No 2, waiting for space in the harbour.
“Port control is permanently monitoring the position of the vessel visually and by radar,” said Mwenyo.
He said the nets will be discharged ashore before commencement of repairs.
He confirmed the trawler was used to catch live mammals elsewhere and that is why it has such equipment, but it never caught anything in the Namibian waters.
The nets were immobilised and cannot be used.
Mwenyo explained that to pull these nets to capture live animals, a special boat is required and this boat was already discharged together with other equipment needed for such operations and are warehoused in Walvis Bay.
Mwenyo said the vessel’s documents that allowed it come for repair has since expired and need to be renewed by the Classification Society before repair will be done.
He said the vessel could not leave the port without legal documents, which makes it impossible for it to be involved in illegal activities.
“It is difficult to conduct illegal activities in our water; our fisheries inspectors are closely watching the ship,” said the PS.
Speculation that the Russians applied for a licence to catch such animals were disputed, and Maurihungirire said he only knows about it from the media reports that quote him in that regard.
“They never approached us with any request for a licence, we do not know anything about them. We heard in the grapevine that they applied for the licence, so we have nothing to do with them.”