Papua New Guinea
Reference number
[2017] PGDC 27
Damages, Fines or Sanctions, Marine and Freshwater
Kaumi PM

The Defendant, a Vietnamese National, was charged with 3 separate counts of operating a foreign fishing vessel without the valid licenses for the purposes of fishing and harvesting sea cucumbers  (Beche-de-mer) in contravention of provisions of the Fisheries Management Act of Papua New Guinea 1998.

The Court sentenced the Defendant to K50,000 for each offence (a total of K150, 000) in default a sentence of four years imprisonment with hard labour (to be served concurrently).


In sentencing, the Court, guided by the PNG National Fisheries Authority Judiciary Bench Book, made the following observations:

(i) PNG is a Party to the UN Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks and this places a significant range of international legal obligations on PNG to manage these stocks conservatively and cooperatively.

(ii) PNG is a nation of more than 7 million people with more than 80% living in customary communities along coastlines of more than 600 islands. These communities represent the human victims of fisheries crime who will suffer both economically and in terms of human health if fisheries are no longer sustainable.

(iii) As potential profits from Illegal fishing are so high and because there are real human victims, fisheries offences need to be penalized at a level that is sufficiently harsh to create a deterrent effect to potential future offenders.


The Court considered the following factors as aggravating factors in determining sentence

(i) The act was a deliberate and calculated illegal fishing of sea cucumbers by the Defendant. The route and distance taken to reach PNG was considered an aggravating factor as it demonstrated the determination to travel thousands of miles in a long and dangerous journey in a small boat.

(ii) The Beche-de-mer fishery, which was once worth K40 million in exports, was now closed as stocks had fallen dangerously low as a result of illegal fishing.

(iii) The number of sea cucumber harvested (3.15 tonnes) was not the result of a single dive but a planned mission.


Aside from the sentence given, the court ordered that all exhibits be forfeited to the National Fisheries authority and the Fishing Vessel be destroyed given the unsanitary conditions and vermin infestation.