Vanuatu Customs Detains Suspicious Vessel Over Irregular Travel Documents

MV Glory lacks appropriate papers indicating origin, reported sale to dubious company

By Len Garae

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 4, 2017) – A fishing boat-like vessel called MV Glory and its five Sri Lankan crew and one captain have been detained by Customs at the Main Wharf in Port Vila, in connection to alleged irregularities regarding the vessel’s travel documents, reportedly from Japan.

Acting Manager Border Badley Tari says the only clue that the ship departed a port city in Japan is that the writings on its papers are in Japanese.

He says according to his officers, the previous owner, also Sri Lankan, is in the country and arrived ahead of the arrival of the vessel on December 29 at 10 o’clock in the morning. However there is no bill of sale or any amount to prove how much the new owner bought the vessel for, or any departure certificate from any Japanese city as required by law, to confirm it originated from there. The Acting Manager Border names Paul Okten as the owner, who is also the owner of JPO Kava Export and Import, whose kava export to New Zealand was returned as “Adulterated Kava” as reported on the front page of Daily Post on December 31 last Saturday. Asked if the new owner has tried to claim the vessel, Mr. Tari denies any such attempt saying however that this is his second ship to have arrived in the country after his first ship called “MV One People”, and that he understands another two ships are on their way reportedly from Japan also. He confirms customs officers have boarded the vessel on arrival “on normal routine check” and done a thorough search of the interior only to find it empty of any sign of fishing equipment on board. “My guess is that it could be used as an inter-island ship”, he says.

He estimates the vessel to be about 20 years old.

Regarding the fate of the five crew and captain, Tari says they have returned their passports and that a process for their prosecution has begun. “The captain told customs officers that he and his crew have completed their job and are ready to return home”, he says.

Quizzed if he has any experience in working on ships, the captain told Customs he is employed on international cargo ships but that this is the first time to captain a small vessel.

They are reported to be in the country on a one-month visa.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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