Illegal fishing: Seychelles’ Court of Appeal reduces fine for Sri Lankan captain
A Sri Lankan national, previously convicted before the Supreme Court of Seychelles for illegal fishing, has won his case before the Court of Appeal and been ordered to pay a reduced fine of SCR400,000 ($32,000) after the judgement for his case was delivered on August 19.
The captain of a Sri Lankan-flagged vessel, Mahalingam Kanapathi, was arrested on June 1, 2021, by the Seychelles Coast Guard patrol vessel Topaz onboard Sampath 7, a foreign fishing vessel with a registration that is not licensed or authorised for fishing in Seychelles’ waters.
Kanapathi – who had pleaded guilty – was convicted and fined SCR2.5 million, or $167,000, for fishing in the waters of Seychelles without a foreign fishing vessel license on August 4, 2021. Unable to meet the fine payment, the accused was sentenced to serve two years in prison.
His lawyer, Clifford Andre, brought forth that the sentence was harsh. In his defense before the Court of Appeal, it was outlined that Kanapathi “had pleaded guilty at the very first opportunity and that he was a first offender,” with the addition that he was the sole breadwinner of his family with two minor children.
The 32-year-old has been ordered by the judges of the Court of Appeal – namely – to pay the sum within one month of the judgement date. Should he be unable to make the payment within this period, his vessel as well as gears and equipment on board will be seized by the government of Seychelles.
Should Kanapathi meet the fine, he will be allowed to leave Seychelles on his vessel. A failure to do so will result in the convicted being repatriated to his country of residence.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has a vast Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million square kilometres which presents a challenge when it comes to monitoring illegal activities in the island nation’s waters. There has been an increase in illegal fishing in Seychelles’ waters with six foreign vessels caught in 2022.