Saba-bank under surveillance of coastguard


WILLEMSTAD — The Saba-bank – a relatively shallow spawning ground with a unique underwater life – will be under intensive surveillance of the coastguard, according to the action plan for 2010-2014.

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Under the heading Fisheries, it states that 2009 has the following targets, namely the tracing of business-like forms of illegal fishery in the Exclusive Fishery zone (EVZ) with the priority towards large(r) foreign vessels which are usually at sea during several days, and possibly causing substantial damage through their fishing methods to the balance of the fish stock.

Sea- and air-surveillance is of great importance in order to realize the fishery policy by preventing such in the earliest possible stage. This applies to the Saba-bank in particular. Therefore, the surveillance will be aimed at compliance with the regulations regarding the setting up of the crab-/fish-nets that are placed at the Saba bank, and the compliance with the regulations regarding crab catches in conformity with the applicable land regulation Fishery on illegal fishing. The coastguard has therefore promised its partners on Saba and St. Eustatius (police, customs, and Stenapa) to carry out monthly surveillances. Spear fishing appears to be a difficult activity to combat, in particular with the ABC-Islands. The combating of such requires continued attention from the Antilles and Aruba.

The expectation is that during the course of this year, an oil-combating plan for Curaçao – including the results of the drills, desktops, and conferences, will be implemented. The Harbor Security Inspection Curaçao is responsible for the coordination.
The coastguard itself merely has the capacity to combat environmental pollutions on open seas (the Dash-8 patrol aircraft disposes of a meager spray capacity).
The civil (harbor) institutes and oil refineries only have a capacity that is mainly suitable for inland waters. The disposition of an oil removal capacity for the coastguard at open seas would be a supplementary capacity and fit within the task of the contingency program. A modular and mobile adjustment to vessels would require a once-only amount of half a million euros.

In last year’s annual report, the coastguard announced that 35 cases of pollution of the surface water had occurred (compared to 29 cases in 2007). In most cases, it concerned oil pollution of which the origin could not be traced and therefore no reports of offence could be made. During their daily patrols, the coastguard paid additional attention to pollution of coast and beaches, mostly caused by vessels dumping rubbish. On Aruba, it mainly concerned cases of illegal dumping. At Bullen Bay and in the Schottegat on Curaçao, the pollution mainly concerned a light oil slick due to leakage from subsoil, which is saturated with oil. Upon these discoveries, the Harbor Security Inspection was called on for further action.

In 2008, the reports and conclusions with the surveillance on maritime environment especially concerned spear fishing, namely 33 in total (compared to 38 in 2007). This resulted in fourteen reports being made out (compared to 25 in 2007). In all cases, the coastguard confiscated the catch as well as the weapon. On Aruba, the coastguard itself discovers most of the cases. On Curaçao, this usually occurs through third party reports, such as nature lovers and diving schools. The offender(s) are usually nowhere to be found, once the coastguard arrives. No violations were registered on Bonaire, Saba, and St. Eustatius. The institute Stinapa on Bonaire is very active and takes action against cases regarding these violations.

Last year, the coastguard discovered six cases of illegal fishing (compared to 5 in 2007). A report was made in all six cases. Four cases concerned the catch of forbidden fish species and the other two cases lacked the fishing permit.