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Title:
The Monte Confurco case (Seychelles v. France)
Party:
Seychelles
Region:
Africa
Europe
Type of document:
International court
Date of text:
December 18, 2000
Data source:
InforMEA
Court name:
International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
Seat of court:
Hamburg
Justice(s):
Rao Chandrasekhara
Nelson
Caminos
Rangel Marotta
Yankov
Yamamoto
Kolodkin
Park
Engo Bamela
Mensah
Akl
Anderson
Vukas
Wolfrum
Treves
Marsit
Eiriksson
Ndiaye
Jesus
Reference number:
List of cases No. 6
ECOLEX subject(s):
Sea
Fisheries
Abstract:
The Monte Confurco was a fishing vessel, flying the flag of Seychelles. Its owner was the Monteco Shipping Corporation, a company registered in Seychelles. On 27 August 2000, the Monte Confurco left Port Louis (Mauritius) to engage in long-line fishing in the Southern seas. On 8 November 2000, the Monte Confurco was boarded by the crew of a French surveillance frigate in the exclusive economic zone of the Kerguelen Islands in the French Southern and Antarctic Territories. The Monte Confurco was escorted under the supervision of the French navy to Port-des-Galets, Réunion, where it arrived on 19 November 2000. The Master of the vessel was charged and placed under court supervision. In its order of 22 November 2000, the court of first instance at Saint-Paul noted, among other things, that the vessel Monte Confurco entered the exclusive economic zone of the Kerguelen Islands without prior authorization or declaring the tonnage of fish carried on board (in violation of the provisions of article 2 of Law 66-400 of 18 June 1966, as amended by the Law of 18 November 1997). These circumstances raised the “presumption” that the whole of the catch was unlawfully fished in the exclusive economic zone of the Kerguelen Islands. The court declared that the release of the vessel and its Master would be subject to the payment of a bond in the amount of 56,400,000 FF. The Applicant submitted that the bond set by the court of first instance at Saint-Paul was not a “reasonable bond or other security” within the meaning of article 73, paragraph 2, of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and that the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea should, in exercise of its powers under article 292 of the Convention, fix a “reasonable” bond and order the release of the vessel upon the posting of such a bond, as well as the release of the Master without a bond, since he could not be subject to imprisonment. The Government of the French Republic requested the Tribunal to reject the submission made by the Republic of Seychelles. The Tribunal examined the question of non-compliance with article 73, paragraphs 2, of the Convention. It was accordingly necessary for the Tribunal to determine whether the bond imposed by the French court was “reasonable”. The Tribunal found that Article 73 identified two interests, the interest of the coastal State to take appropriate measures as may be necessary to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations adopted by it on the one hand and the interest of the flag State in securing prompt release of its vessels and their crews from detention on the other. It provided for a fair balance between the two interests. Similarly, the object of article 292 of the Convention was to reconcile the interest of the flag State to have its vessel and its crew released promptly with the interest of the detaining State to secure appearance in its court of the Master and the payment of penalties. The balance of interests emerging from articles 73 and 292 of the Convention provided the guiding criterion for the Tribunal in its assessment of the reasonableness of the bond. In this connection, the Tribunal would treat the laws of the detaining State and the decisions of its courts as relevant facts. In the view of the Respondent, illegal fishing was a threat to the future resources and the conservation of toothfish. The Tribunal had also taken note of the range of penalties which, under French law, were imposable for the alleged offences. These penalties underlined that under French law such offences were grave. The Applicant, however, argued that the only offence committed by the Master of the vessel had been his failure to notify the entry of the Monte Confurco into the exclusive economic zone of the Kerguelen Islands and the tonnage of fish it carried on board, and that the vessel had not fished in the said zone. The Tribunal considered that the value of the fish and of the fishing gear seized was also to be taken into account as a factor relevant in the assessment of the reasonableness of the bond. On the basis of the above considerations, the Tribunal considered that the bond of 56,400,000 FF imposed by the French court was not “reasonable” within the meaning of article 292 of the Convention. The Tribunal found that the Application with respect to the allegation of non-compliance with article 73, paragraph 2, of the Convention was well-founded and that, consequently, France had to release promptly the Monte Confurco and its Master upon the posting of a bond to be determined by the Tribunal.