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Off Grand Baie: Illegal Fish Transshipment Network Dismantled

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A police operation mounted in the Grand Baie lagoon on the evening of Monday March 25 with the assistance of officers from the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) and the Fisheries Protection Officers led to the interception of a pirogue carrying a 43-year-old fish banyan from Camp Carol, Grand Baie, and a 44-year-old helper from Pereybère. The two men, Prithum Teelockchan and Veerasawmy Sawminaden, were in possession of twenty-one raffia bags containing several kilos of fish of various species.  The seized fish are valued at Rs 250,000. Prithum Teelockchan claims to have bought the fish with a Malagasy national aboard the boat Diego Star 5 near Coin de Mire. In the wake of this investigation, two Malagasy sailors, René Fulgence. 55 and Nilly Gervais Tombaniaina, 58, were arrested on Tuesday March 26. As a result, a long-running illegal fish transshipment network has been dismantled.

Following information obtained by the Maritime Intelligence Cell of the National Coast Guard (NCG) concerning an illegal transshipment of fish in Mauritius’ exclusive economic zone, a special joint operation was set up with elements of the North Division Police Force, the Divisional Crime Inteligence Unit of the Port, the MRA and the Fisheries Protection Officers.  At 8:30 pm on Saturday March 23, a white pirogue with registration number A 435 AF 99 and two crew members on board was intercepted inside the Grand Baie lagoon.

Twenty-one white raffia bags filled with various species of fish were on board. When asked about the presence of this merchandise, Prithum Teelockchan had to declare, “Missie sa bann poisson la, nou ti ale pran avek bato lapes Diego Stat 5 ki ti pre ar Coin de Mire avek ene malgas ki mo konn li par Jean Pierre e sa bann poison la mo finn aste sa avek li pou ki mo vende lor latab. Nou abitie fer bann trasman koumsa”.

The two men were subsequently informed that they had committed the offence of illegally transshipping fish in Mauritius’s exclusive economic zone. Prithum Teelockchan then told police officers, “missie nou pou korpere avek lapolis”.

The police investigation led by the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of Grand Baie, headed by Inspector Dooshan Thakoor, under the supervision of Superintendent of Police, Jankeeparsad in charge of the CID of the northern division, led to the arrest of two sailors from the fishing vessel Diego Star 5, René Fulgence and René Fulgence. The two Madagascans, who were apprehended on Tuesday March 26, were brought before the Pamplemousses court on Wednesday March 27.

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