Maritime border dispute flares up again
Sea border dispute between Vanuatu and New Caledonia has resulted in the arrest and conviction of a Chinese boat captain and members of his crew. New Caledonian maritime surveillance authorities claimed the long line vessel was fishing inside its territorial waters and slapped it with a US$5.5m fine. Hugues Gossvin of Navimon Fishing Company said the Hu Yu 911 ship was seized by the French Navy in December last year. He told reporters who attended an European Union funded Tuna workshop in Noumea that although the longliner was licensed to fish in Vanuatu waters, it was found fishing however within New Caledonian waters, a claim denied by the boat captain and the Government of Vanuatu.
“The catch and the ship has been confiscated and the crew are still negotiating their fate with the authorities,” said Gossvin. Crew members of Hu Yu 911 were still on the boat in Noumea when Islands Business toured the Navimon operation last February. Gossvin said New Caledonian authorities had considered selling the vessel. However the state of the vessel might not meet the high phytosanitary standards that the French demands of New Caledonian vessels. The fishing industry in this French territory only had long line fishing vessels and all are locally owned. “We do not have any distant water fishing nations’ boats fishing in our waters,” he said. It is understood the captain of the fishing boat was prosecuted in a Noumea court, found guilty of fishing illegally and fined.
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