UNODC GMCP Seychelles hosts first maritime law enforcement courses aimed at combating crimes on board fishing vessels

© UNODC

Seychelles, 4 September 2020 - The UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP), funded by the United States Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, hosted three Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) maritime law enforcement courses aimed at strengthening Seychelles’ capacity to counter crimes on board fishing vessels.

Fishing vessels are not only the scene of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Both ancillary and unrelated crimes are often also found on board such vessels. This includes illegal transshipment of catch, document fraud, labour exploitation, human trafficking and drug trafficking. Sub-standard fishing vessels may also violate the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.

The project, titled ‘Countering Illegal Transshipments in African Small Island Developing States (SIDS)’, aims to combat this range of crimes by facilitating inter-agency cooperation between maritime law enforcement agencies and fishing authorities.

The Seychelles Coast Guard, Anti-Narcotics Bureau and Marine Police Unit were for the first time joined by the Seychelles Fishing Authority and Seychelles Customs during the VBSS courses. The courses included a week of classroom training, which entailed practical exercises and seminars on the laws applicable at sea. The second week consisted of practical training, including real-life scenario boarding exercises.

In addition to the VBSS courses, a basic seamanship course was also delivered to ensure all maritime law enforcement agencies are safe when operating at sea. The courses were presented by two UNODC GMCP instructors.

Chief Instructor Stuart Melville, commented: “Once it became evident that the pandemic would pose significant challenges to the training, the GMCP team in Seychelles worked in close cooperation with national counterparts to ensure the use of PPE by course participants and the adherence to social distancing recommendations.”

UNODC GMCP feels positive about the future in maritime law enforcement in Seychelles and looks forward to developing new initiatives to enhance the VBSS courses.