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Nelson Mandela University to officially unveil its Fisheries Crime Unit

Nov 8, 2017
Nelson Mandela University to officially unveil its Fisheries Crime Unit

The Nelson Mandela University is expected on Wednesday to officially launch a Fisheries Crime Unit, during a two-day conference on the protection of marine resources, which is also taking place at the university on Wednesday and Thursday.

Last year, the university announced the establishment of a Fisheries Law Enforcement Academy called FishFORCE, which aims top help combat fisheries crime.

"Fisheries crime and the illegal harvesting, processing and trading of fish and seafood globally is so huge that it is in effect a parallel economic system that is undermining sustainable economic growth. Countries are being deprived of taxes; citizens of jobs, food and income; and fisheries and environments are being destroyed," said Professor Hennie van As, Director of the Centre for Law in Action (CLA) and a professor of Public Law in the Faculty of Law.

The unit is a partnership between the NMU, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

“FishFORCE’s main purpose is to combat sea fisheries crime and related criminal activities,” says Prof van As.

“We have started training Fisheries Control Officers (FCOs), police officers and prosecutors in South Africa, and we will be doing the same in other countries along the East African coastline. We are also assisting with training along the Indian Ocean Rim, including countries such as Indonesia."

Norway committed NOK 23-million (Norwegian Krone) over five years for the establishment of FishFORCE. Norwegian Ambassador, Ms Trine Skymoen, and the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Institutional Support, Dr Sibongile Muthwa, signed the agreement in June 2016 at a high-level conference on Operation Phakisa and the Oceans Economy, held in Port Elizabeth.

The official launch FishFORCE takes place at Mandela University’s Ocean Sciences Campus tomorrow afternoon, 8 November, and coincides with a two-day multinational conference titled Protecting Marine Resources: A Tangled Net starting tomorrow morning.

The two-day conference will hold discussions around an Integrated Approach to Law Enforcement in the Fisheries Environment as a main theme, with sub-themes including:

  • Local government and fisheries law enforcement
  • Law enforcement and local economic development
  • Inter-agency cooperation
  • Cross-border cooperation
  • Organised crime in the fisheries environment and its impact on the local economy/safety and security

Since its establishment, FishFORCE has registered seven short learning programmes (SLPs), hosted a total 18 training sessions between August 2016 and October 2017, with 364 officials from Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), City of Cape Town, SANParks and SARS having received training to date.