Taiwanese Captain Sentenced 20 Years for Shark Finning in Tanzania
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
12 December 2018
The owner and captain of the Malaysian-flagged fishing vessel (F/V) Buah Naga 1 that was boarded and arrested by Tanzanian law enforcement agents as part of Operation Jodari, a joint partnership between Sea Shepherd, Fish-i Africa and the government of Tanzania to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, have pleaded guilty to the charge of Unlawful Possession of Shark Fins in a plea agreement with Tanzanian Prosecutors.
The captain, Mr. Han Ming Chuan of a Taiwan, has been in custody since January 2018 when he was charged with five crimes: Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Acts, Unlawful Possession of Shark Fins, Pollution of the Marine Environment, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm and Unlawful Possession of Ammunition. The owner, Mr. Dato Seri Lee Yee Jiat, and agent, Mr. Abubakar Salum Hassan, joined the F/V Buah Naga 1 in police custody after they were subsequently arrested in June.
On December 4ththe defendants reached a plea agreement with the Tanzanian Director of Public Prosecutions to avoid trial, pleading guilty to one of the five charges: Unlawful Possession of Shark Fins.
The High Court of Tanzania sentenced the three defendants to twenty years imprisonment or a fine of one billion Tanzanian Shillings ($435,000 USD). All three have been remanded to Lilungu Prison in Mtwara to begin serving their custodial sentences. If the fine is paid then the sentence will be suspended.
The High Court has handed over the seized shark fins to the Tanzanian Deep Sea Fishing Authority for destruction. The F/V Bua Naga 1 remains in in Mtwara.
When the F/V Buah Naga 1 was first boarded on January 25th by Tanzanian law enforcement agents working on board the Sea Shepherd vessel M/Y Ocean Warrior, inspectors discovered that the vessel was carrying an illegal cargo of shark fins. An unlicensed firearm, a 9mm Beretta pistol, was found in the captain’s cabin. According to the Indonesian fishers working on board, the firearm was regularly used to threaten them to work. If no fish was caught, then the Indonesian crew would not be fed.
“Sea Shepherd applauds the Tanzanian government for the successful prosecution of the F/V Buah Naga 1 and for the strong message of deterrence that the Tanzanian High Court has sent to shark fin poachers everywhere. As shark populations plummet globally, Tanzania is rising as an international leader in the fight against illegal fishing,” said Peter Hammarstedt, Director of Campaigns for Sea Shepherd Global.
RELATED ARTICLE: "Sea Shepherd Launches Operation Jodari with Tanzania, Makes First three Arrests" (Feb 5, 2018)
RELATED ARTICLE: “LEGAL UPDATE: Two More Arrests in Tanzanian Illegal Fishing Investigation” (June 5, 2018)
Hi-Res Images: https://minerva.seashepherdglobal.org/share.cgi?ssid=0Zq9UrS
180917-V-JLL-BuahNaga7: The Buah Naga 1 detained in the Tanzanian port of Mtwara. Photo by Jordi Llurba/Sea Shepherd.
180205-OpJodari-Tanzania-11: Captain of the Buah Naga 1 and Tanzanian Police Inspector during January 25th arrest. Photo Jax Oliver/Sea Shepherd. Photo by Jax Oliver/Sea Shepherd.
180125-OPJ-JO-Buah Naga 1 Inspection: The small boat of Sea Shepherd's Ocean Warrior brings Tanzanian Marines to the Buah Naga 1 for inspection. Photo by Jax Oliver/Sea Shepherd. Photo by Jax Oliver/Sea Shepherd.
For more information or interviews:
Heather Stimmler, Media Director Sea Shepherd Global
Tel: +339 7719 7742
Sea Shepherd Global
Sea Shepherd is an international non-profit marine conservation movement using innovative tactics and direct action to defend, conserve and protect the worlds oceans and marine wildlife. Founded by Paul Watson in 1977, today Sea Shepherd is a worldwide movement with independent national and regional entities in over 20 countries, united by a common mission and a fleet of eleven ships on campaigns around the world. Sea Shepherd investigates and documents violations of international and national conservation law, and enforces conservation measures where legal authority exists. For more information, visit: http://www.seashepherdglobal.org/