Seized S. Korean Fishing Vessel Back In Kenya
ECOTERRA Intl. urges The South Korean government as
well as the authorities of the Republic of Kenya to fully
investigate the case of "GOLDEN WAVE 305" and hold the
owner, captain, manager and agent responsible for
endangering the lives of 39 Kenyan seamen, aiding Somali
pirates in piracy operations and illegal fishing in the
Illegal South Korean
Fishing Vessel Seized In Somalia Back In Kenya
Fv Golden Wave Was Illegal All The Way Along
A South Korean fishing vessel seized in
October last year in Somali waters has arrived in the Kenyan
port of Mombasa after its release last week from
Family and friends of the 39 Kenyan, two South Korean and two Chinese sailors aboard welcomed them. Emotional scenes could be observed as the sailors met their families and somer officials gathered for their arrival, among them the East African chapter chairman of the Seafarers Assistance Programme (SAP), Mr. Andrew Mwangura.
The FV Golden Wave - also known as Keummi 305 (or Geummi 305) - was escorted into the port by a Finnish warship and a small Kenyan navy boat. South Korea's foreign ministry earlier said the South Korean navy had requested that a vessel from the EU Naval Force accompany the Keummi 305 to secure the safety of the sailors.
The 241-ton, sometimes Kenya-flagged fishing vessel, which had not been authorized by the South Korean Government to fish outside Korean waters, was attacked on October 9 in Somali waters off Ras Kiamboni north of Kenya's Lamu Island while fishing.
Seafarers on the vessel as well as local sources
all stated that the vessel actually had been fishing off Ras
Kiamboni in Somali waters without licence. Crew members
actually will consult with lawyers in order to sue the
captain, who took them against their will into these
dangerous waters on an illegal fishing trip.
Kenyan Joseph Amere, who had acted as the crew's chief negotiator with pirate bosses, told Reuters they had been illegally trawling for crabs off the shores of Somalia before the vessel was seized and later were forced to launch 17 raids on ships plying the busy waterways between east Africa and the Seychelles archipelago, because the shipowner was not ready to pay the hefty compensation for the illegal fishing.
The vessel was then captured by the Ras Kiamboni coastal militia and due to lack of a suitable court subsequently handed on to Somali brokers, which wanted to get the fine from the owner. Since that did not materialize, the vessel and crew were then handed to a group, which more known for acts of piracy than anything else.
thereafter misused the fishing vessel as piracy launch to
capture merchant vessels and all together held onto the
vessel for over four month.
Some of the crew members confirmed this already also to news reporters that their trawler was used by the pirates as a mother ship to attack other vessels and they gave brief statements on the true story of their ordeal. Their captors allegedly seized five other vessels in Kenyan waters, the sailors believe according to the Daily Nation, during the four months,of the terrifying ordeal, and at no time were Kenyan security forces anywhere in the vicinity. The editor of that newspaper therefore felt obliged to blow into the horn of the navies, stating that "The conclusion then is that our security agencies do not have the capacity to protect Kenyan territorial waters." The sailors and fishermen also reported from their hostage takers that many of the pirates say they began as fishermen but have lost their livelihoods because of foreign trawlers.
At first no information about a ransom was reported, while pirates usually only release ships after being paid.
The Korean agent, who had been outside the country on a family trip, now claimed to a Kenyan newspaper that the ship and crew were released on February 8 after payment of a reported KSh50 million (= 635,000 US$) ransom, which was immediately rubbished by the seamen as well as sources in Somalia. The East African Seafarers Assistance Programme said that there was maybe only at one point of time a payment of 50,000 US$ (= KSh 4 mio) for upkeep of the crew, but that otherwise the crew was released for having served in piracy actions and because there was no hope that the owner or agent would come up with any serious money.
The Kenyan sailors also revealed heart-rending stories of their ill-treatment, deprivation, and sheer horror of life in captivity as well as their fear for their families, which had not been supported by the shipowner during all that time of their absence.
The vessel was known since years to conduct fish-poaching operations and when it finally got entangled in Somali not just few, including the Malindi fishermen were actually relieved that the boat wouldn't disturb their fishing grounds for a while.
In any case the South Korean Government, who had already listed the vessel as an illegal operator, will conduct a full investigation and it is hoped by the Kenyan beach units of the fishing co-operatives as well as conservation organizations that the Kenya authorities follow swiftly for misusing the Kenyan flag in fish piracy in the first place.