Two plead guilty after caught with 60 illegally harvested rock lobster

Fishing Inspectors, private investigators and members of the Swakopmund neighbourhood watch made a break-through in the illegal rock lobster trade over the weekend after arresting two residents who illegally harvested 60 rock lobsters – even though the season is currently closed. Lorenzo Pitt (23) and Edmund Klazen (42) were sentenced to a fine of N$2 000 each yesterday.

“This is a huge success. We haven’t clamped down on people who have poached so many rock lobsters in years,” said Stanley Ndara, Fisheries Control Inspector in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, yesterday to namib times. The two suspects spent the weekend in the holding cells and made a court appearance yesterday.
According to Ndara the inspectors had an eye out for Pitt and Klazen for a while already. “Initially we got a tip-off that they were to go out on Thursday evening, but nothing happened. We went back on Friday evening and made the break-through,” he said. The two individuals started diving at about 22:00. “We set up a mini-road-block at the entrance of Swakopmund and caught them in the possession of rock lobster just after midnight,” Ndara explained.
The Namibian season for harvesting rock lobster runs from 1 November to 30 April. Even with a valid permit a harvester may only harvest seven rock lobsters per day. The carapace length has to be 65 mm respectively. A rock lobster carrying eggs may not be taken. In this case the suspects were in the possession of 60 rock lobsters of which 33 were undersized and two were carrying eggs.
Pitt and Klazen were charged with harvesting rock lobsters during a closed season. During their court appearances yesterday in the Magistrates Court both pleaded guilty in front of Magistrate Nelao Brown. During sentencing state prosecutor Tanja Jacobie argued that it is a serious offence prevalent in the district. “The reason for not fishing in closed season is to give marine resources the chance to grow and multiply,” she said and argued for the prescribed fine being N$4800 or twelve months imprisonment.
During her sentencing Brown took various factors into consideration, amongst others the personal details of the accused. “The court is of the opinion that an option of a fine will meet the justice in this matter; the fine must be of such nature that it will cause the accused to feel the economic impact of such fine for some time to come,” she said. She sentenced both Pitt and Klazen to a fine of N$2000 or in default of payment to twelve months in prison of which N$500 or six months is suspended on condition that the accused are not convicted of the same contravention again.
It alleged that the accused were catching rock lobsters for a “fixed market” in Swakopmund. “You cannot put a value on these animals as the season is closed. You may not harvest rock lobsters now. It’s as simple as that,” Ndara said. He argues that currently the fines are very low and these need to be revised urgently to serve as a deterrent.
The rock lobsters were confiscated by the Ministry and will, as is customary, be donated to a charity at a later stage.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login