A Philippines fishing vessel with 79 crew members was confined and prevented from entry to the Marshall Islands Thursday after arriving in the country without a fishing license or any advance communication with authorities.
“It was a surprise to me to hear this vessel arrived,” said Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Director Glen Joseph speaking of the vessel, F/V YMH Live Fish Carrier. “Their local agent has an agreement for live reef fishing with us, but there is a process for obtaining a license to fish that has not been adhered to. A fishing license is not guaranteed unless they meet all national and international licensing requirements.”
Police, immigration, customs and health officials reacted quickly to the vessel’s arrival at Uliga Dock Thursday afternoon, shutting down access to the dock area and confining the crew — first in a dockside passenger terminal, where immigration documents were checked, and later ordering the entire crew of 79 was directed to re-board and remain on the vessel or in the vicinity of ship by dockside. Police officers are on 24-hour watch at the dock.
“I am denying you entry to the Marshall Islands,” Marshall Islands Immigration Director Damien Jacklick told the captain and crew at dockside after reviewing their legal status.
The vessel reportedly was planning to conduct fishing operations in Enewetak and Ujelang atolls under the authority of the Enewetak Ujelang Local Government.
“We don’t have any information about this boat,” said Joseph. “This information should have come through the vetting process for a license. There is a process in place.”
The agreement was to use local fishermen on the fishing boat, Enewetak Senator Jack Ading told Nitijela Wednesday. “If they’re not going to use local fishermen, as I heard there are 79 fishermen on the boat, then I’m not going to allow the boat to fish on Enewetak.”
In addition, with the vessel now in violation of multiple national laws regarding entry to the country, Joseph added: “I’m in no position to okay their license when their entry to the country is questionable.”
The boat from the Philippines remains tied at the dock in Majuro and under police watch.
Read more about this in the February 10, 2017 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.