WALVIS BAY - Arngrímur Brynjólfsson, the captain of Heinaste, a factory trawler owned by Samherji, was yesterday fined N$950 000 in the Walvis Bay Magistrate’s Court for fishing in a restricted zone.
The 67-year-old pleaded guilty last week Friday before magistrate Rhivermo Williams.
However, Williams dismissed the State’s application for forfeiture of the vessel, arguing it failed to provide sufficient evidence.
Giving her verdict during the sentencing yesterday morning, Williams told Brynjólfsson that he committed a serious offence that not only affected the country’s marine resource, but also the Namibian people.
“The management, protection harvesting and utilisation of marine resources are imperative to the country,” Williams said.
She explained that evidence provided by the ministry’s biologist Bean Mbeurora Tjizoo on the impact of illegal fishing, especially trawling on species such as sardine pilchards and horse mackerel, shows that it is detrimental not only for the commercial value but also for the existence of such fisheries.
“Hence, harm was done as trawling does not discriminate as no fish are left uncaught. It is evident that if the restriction is not applied the fish protected within the 200-metre area of the seabed will be removed and eventually decrease fish stock and affect our economy,” Williams said.
She then found Brynjólfsson guilty on all three charges, sentencing him to pay N$950 000 or face 12 months’ imprisonment.
On the application to forfeit the Heinaste vessel used in the illegal activity, Williams said the State did not provide sufficient evidence.
“The State relied on the employment contract signed between Brynjólfsson and Saga Seafood Namibia and the director who represented Heinaste, showing a link between Saga Seafood and Heinaste. The contract of employment does not talk about the illegal use of the vessel,” she explained.
She said there was no evidence presented that the two companies have the same shareholding or board of directors.
“It cannot be inferred that the owners of the vessel did know that the accused would steer the vessel into a prohibited area and could prevent that. The owner of the vessel cannot be prejudiced by the actions of the accused,” Williams said.
She then ordered that the vessel and all relevant documents impounded by the police be handed back to the owners immediately.
Meanwhile, four more vessel captains also accused of illegal fishing will also plea on Monday.