Crime & Punishment of 2014-06-30

5 Busted for buying fish on high seas

Five men have been busted by the Marine Police for carrying out transshipment of large consignments of fish off the coast of the Western Region.

The crew, led by Kwesi Mensah, 35, had bought more than 1,000 slabs of frozen fish worth GH¢17,000 from a foreign fishing vessel.

Their action is in direct contravention of the Fisheries Act 625, 2002 that criminalises any offshore trading of fish without the expressed approval or supervision of an officer from the Fisheries Commission.

The fishing crew used a 28-metre long unregistered boat with the inscription "Nyame Ye Kese", which had been designed as a refrigerator to carry out the deal.

This brings to 35 the total number of crew members arrested in four separate operations in less than two months. Arrest

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Director of Marine Police at the Takoradi Port, Chief Superintendent of Police Mr Samuel Owusu-Berko, said the fish was being sent to Elmina in the Central Region when the police arrested the crew at three nautical miles off the coast of Aboadze.

He said when the suspects were interrogated initially, they refused to provide any details about the foreign vessel from which they bought the fish, claiming that they did not have any information about the vessel.

They also refused to co-operate with the police compelling the police to tow their boat from Aboadze to the Takoradi Port. Caution

Mr Owusu reiterated the earlier caution he gave when three different arrests were made in May, saying, "The police will not spare any person that flouts the country’s maritime and fisheries laws, and once that person is in our custody, we will ensure that the law takes its full course."

Mr Owusu-Berko said the fish had been handed over to the Fisheries Commission, and for their part, the police would prepare a duplicate docket and forward it to the Attorney General’s office for advice.

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