Ministry of Fisheries Refutes Allegations [Archives:2001/28/Front Page]

July 9 2001

An application was filed on behalf of Panama against Yemen for the release of the seized vessel sent to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. It is claimed that the Choisiri Reefer 2 Panama-flag vessel was seized on 3 May, 2001 by Yemeni coastguard officials while leaving Mukalla port for Thailand. The vessel was ordered to sail back to Mukalla where the cargo of 765.74 metric tons of frozen fish ( cuttlefish and mixed fish ) valued at US$ 950,332 was off-loaded.
A press release in this regard says that on 16 June 2001 the Yemen Court of Public Assets delivered a judgment ordering release of the vessel and the payment of a commercial guarantee, and that on the same day the owners of the vessel produced the commercial guarantee.
Panama has requested the Tribunal to order the immediate release of the vessel, its cargo and the crew.
Yemen Times contacted the Ministry of Fisheries. In a statement relating to this question the Director of the Minister’s office said there were 16 vessels owned by Coasts Establishment, including the one in question. The company had been for a long time illegally fishing in Yemeni regional waters under the protection of some influential persons.
After those influential parties recently withdrew their protection those vessels were obliged to submit themselves to the Ministry and made a contract for fishing 170 metric tons of fish. But coastguard officials discovered that the seized vessel was loaded with 765,74 metric tons, 595,74 tons more than the permitted quantity as licensed to the establishment of Zaki Al-Hadrami. Fish loaded in other vessels were therefore illegal and are tantamount to plundering of Yemeni marine wealth.
Engineer Ahmed Mohammed Al-Ba’si denied in his statement that the Hadrami establishment had paid the commercial guarantees and the case was in the Court of Public Assets to decide. MR aL-Ba’si also said there are other vessels carrying out illegal fishing and the Ministry is taking stern measures to stop this depletion of the country’s fish wealth.