Court: Assisting illegal fishing by foreigners a crime

The National, Tuesday July 19th, 2016

 By Tabitha Nero
Assisting an outsider to illegally fish in PNG waters is a criminal act, Magistrate Cosmas Bidar says.
“Although you are not there to buy the fish but assisting an outsider to buy, you are already party to an offence according to Section 7 of the Criminal code,” Bidar told three men charged with attempting to remove shark fins and other fish from waters in Western.
The three men are fishermen from Tarawa village in South Fly district who allegedly assisted two Indonesians in going around villages in their area and buying shark fins and other fish. Bidar explained to the three defendants that Indonesians were outsiders harvesting in PNG waters and they would need a licence under Section 46 of the Fisheries Management Act to fish in PNG.
The court ruled that the men were guilty as charged and convicted of being parties to an offence in Section 7 of the Criminal Code.
Bidar told the court that the maximum penalty for such activities, according to Section 58 of the Fisheries Management Act was a fine of K50,000.
“Parliament has amended this act and now the maximum penalty is K500,000,” Bidar said.
He said to impose such a penalty to the three men would be ‘unimaginable and absolutely mad’, because they would not afford to pay the fine.
There will be no forfeiture of the fishing vessel belonging to the three men as this would rob them of the sustenance of their livelihood, the court ordered.
The court ordered that the men pay a K200 fine each and be imprisoned for two months.
Bidar warned the trio not to help people coming to harvest in PNG because they would be caught.