Commentary release in relation to the new seizure of the vessel Heinaste

With reference to Samherji’s press release from February 6th about the group’s mission to fulfil all of its obligations in Namibia, Samherji believes it is important to disclose the following with reference to the renewed seizure of the vessel Heinaste on February 7th.

As previously stated Samherji has been divesting its operations in Namibia. At this point the group has limited remaining exposure to the country. Of the three vessels that have been fishing in Namibian waters over the past year, Geysir, Heinaste and Saga, only one remains in Namibia. This is the factory trawler Heinaste. The purpose in Heinaste remaining in Namibia was to conclude a charter or sale to local operators with the object of preserving the jobs of local fishermen. On Friday, February 7th, the police in Namibia seized the vessel again. 

“It is our view that the renewed seizure of Heinaste is wrongful under Namibian law and we will now take necessary legal steps in Namibia in court if necessary,” says interim CEO Björgólfur Jóhannsson.

Only a convicted person can have their assets seized under Namibian law. The owner of the Heinaste has not been charged let alone convicted of any offence. Previously the group had stated it was pleased that a case concerning Heinaste and its captain was finally resolved in the Magistrates’ Court of Walvis Bay on Wednesday 5 February 2020. The captain pleaded guilty on 3 charges of having fished in waters shallower than 200 meters deep, which is a contravention of the quota conditions applicable to the rights holders whose quota the Heinaste was chartered to fish. The captain was duly fined and although the state applied for the forfeiture of the vessel, the court refused to grant a forfeiture order, finding that it was not proven that the owner of the vessel, Heinaste Investments (Pty) Ltd, in which Samherji indirectly holds a controlling interest, did not take all reasonable steps to prevent the vessel from being used illegally. The presiding Magistrate thus ordered the state to return the vessel’s papers to the owner.

“Samherji is concerned that the Namibian Police deliberately ignored the court order and refused to return the ship’s papers to the owner, as the court ordered it to do. This delays the re-employment of the ship’s crew to the benefit of Namibian society,” says Björgólfur Jóhannsson.


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