A District Court in Manhattan recently decided that three men found guilty of illegally fishing for lobster in the waters around South Africa's coastline, and selling their catch on the American market need pay a penalty of $54.9 million (€44.24 million / ₤34.85 million).
This money is to be given to the South African government, as a way to pay back the citizens in this part of the world for the losses they suffered in terms of biodiversity as a result of these illegal fishing activities.
In case you were wondering exactly how many lobsters were taken from South African waters so that these three men now have to give back to the local government this much money, it seems that these fishermen carried on with their harvesting activities for a period of time of about 14 years.
Thus, as Mongabay
informs us, between 1987-2001, when they were caught, they succeeded in fishing and selling quite a large number of such marine creatures.
The Pew Environment Group, an organization that is in the business of wildlife preservation and that also promotes clean energy sources, explains that said sum of money constitutes a record for all such restitutions people or companies were ever made to pay under the US Lacey Act.
Speaking on behalf of this organization, Karen Sack made a case of how, “These defendants stole an environmental asset from South Africa, and it is only fair that they pay the country back for that theft.”
Furthermore, “This unprecedented ruling shows that the U.S. can and will take concerted action to stop illegal fishing and bring those U.S. citizens engaging in it to justice, whether it has occurred within or outside of U.S. waters.”
For the time being, a district judge needs to approve of this decision taken by the District Court in Manhattan, so it is still unsure whether or not the defendants will actually have to come up with this much money.
Still, the fact that continuous efforts go into protecting our planets fish stocks and discouraging illegal fishing activities comes as good news.