By Mamadou Dem
When the case resumed yesterday for hearing, the first prosecution witness (PW1), Ebrima Jallow, told the court that he works with the Navy and is a Sub-Lieutenant by rank, adding that he is a boarding officer.
When asked by police prosecutor superintendent Sainey Joof to explain what boarding officer means, the witness said “we board other vessels.”
According to the witness, on the 28 August 2014, he was at sea in Gambian waters on sub-regional fisheries patrol with the Gambian and Senegalese navies and the Fisheries Department. He said their area of patrol was Gambian waters.
“What happened when you went to patrol on that particular day?” asked Joof.
“During the patrol I went on board with the Fisheries Inspector, Mr. Abdoulie Njie,” said the witness.
PW1 said the Egyptian boat (AAYA) was positioned 13˚ 34.63 North and Longitude of 016 55.31 West. He said upon boarding the vessel, the captain was asked his fishing license which he produced. “The license is valid,” said Jallow.
The Navy Sub-Inspector testified that they later proceeded with the Fisheries Inspector to confirm the fishing nets. “After his inspections, he informed me that the accused persons were fishing with a wrong net,” he said.
Navy Sub-Inspector Jallow said the vessel was later escorted to Banjul Ports, adding that the longitude and latitude position was obtained from GPS. “We relayed GPS position to the map on the chart, we realised that the boat is in Gambian waters,” said the witness.
At this juncture, the prosecution applied to tender the map in evidence as exhibit. It was admitted and marked as Exhibit ‘B’ without objection from the defence.
The witness told the Court that both the fishing license of the boat and log book were seized by one Modou Lowe, the Inspector on board. He added that Mr. Lowe is also responsible for making entries in the log book and it shows the position of the boat.
The log book was also admitted in evidence and marked accordingly.
Abdoulie Njie of the Fisheries department and second prosecution (PW2) witness told the court that he is a Fisheries Inspector and has worked for the department for 13 years. He said their patrol in Gambian waters was a joint mission between the Gambian and Senegalese navies. He said a boat from the Gambia called ‘Kunta Kinteh’ also went.
“We boarded some fishing vessels and arrested one boat called ‘AAYA’,” he said.
“We boarded AAYA and inspected the fishing net. We found that the net they were using is below the minimum mesh size for shrimps which is 50mm,” said the witness.
“I used a mesh measuring gauge, 20 meshes are the holes in that net and the average mesh size of the code end has 49.2mm. The accused persons were arrested and escorted to the Ports,” testified Njie.
At this stage of the proceedings, the witness showed the court the instrument he used when he was measuring the net. The prosecution then applied for the court to move to the ports and see the net used by the accused persons and for the witness to demonstrate to the court the measurement of the net.
Following the visit by the court to the said site, the prosecution applied to tender the fishing net in evidence as exhibit. Lawyer Mustapha Marong, who is representing the accused persons, did not object to its admissibility. It was therefore admitted in evidence.
The case continues on the 22 September 2014.
Both accused persons were arraigned before Acting Principal Magistrate Mbaye Snr. on 2 September and charged with a single count of ‘fishing with prohibited fishing gears’.
According to the particulars of offence, the duo on about the 28th of August, 2014 at about 06: 30pm were found on board M.V AAYA, a fishing trawler, fishing within the Gambian territorial waters of longitude 16˚. 55.91 West with a prohibited fishing net which was less than the 50mm Mesh size and thereby committed an offence.
The two have denied any wrongdoing and were granted bail in the sum of 1 million dalasi and ordered to provide a Gambian surety each with a valid identity card.
The trial magistrate further ordered each of the accused persons to surrender their passports with the Court Registrar including keys of the vessel.