§ Mr. Abse
asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs whether he has considered the comments of the Chief Justice of the Seychelles regretting the failure of the authorities to enforce the marine laws on the Seychelles; what action is being taken to ensure that local schooners cease to proceed to the other islands without qualified masters aboard; and what costs fell upon the British funds arising from the search for the "Voltigere".
§ Mr. Whitlock
The comments of the Chief Justice were made at the hearing of charges against the persons in control of the schooner "Voltigere" which undertook an unauthorised voyage on 8th July in direct and deliberate contravention of the law. The Governor of Seychelles has informed me that a misunderstanding occurred during the hearing which led the court to think that the local Unseaworthy Vessels (Prevention) Regulations had at no time been invoked and enforced, when, in fact, they had been.
The law is generally observed but the temptation to flout it is compelling particularly during the restricted but profitable season for sea birds' eggs. Prevention of clandestine voyages and the collection of evidence after the event is extremely difficult but it is hoped that proposed amendments to the law providing stiffer penalties and simpler procedures will lead to greater observation of the regulations and less need to attempt to enforce them.
Maintenance, repatriation and search costs are to be recovered.