Dakar, 13 March 2013 -- Korea's largest tuna company, Dongwon Industries, is facing criminal charges in Liberia for forging official government documents, as well as penalties for its illegal fishing activities in African waters. In response, Greenpeace is calling on the South Korean government to call the company home, investigate the ship’s activities and prosecute as necessary to prevent a repeat.
Dongwon's F/V Premier, a tuna purse seine vessel, was caught using a fake fishing license in Liberia in 2011 and 2012. It then sent a forged letter to the Korean government that was made to look like it came from Liberian Bureau of National Fisheries clearing Dongwon of its illegal fishing activities.
The same forged letter was also sent to African governments seeking new fishing licences for the Premier. The government of Liberia has formally sent a request to the Korean government to investigate MV PREMIER for its violations. The East African and South-West Indian ocean grouping of 8 countries has already refused the vessel from fishing in their waters.
The United Kingdom and European Union also issued a warning against entry of illegally caught fish in their areas. "Enough is enough! The African waters are not self-service fridges for industrial foreign fleets. We are urging the West African government to act very seriously on this case, and beyond, to improve the governance of the fisheries in the region", said Ahmed Diamé, Greenpeace Africa oceans campaigner.
Under Korean law, Dongwon's license can be revoked, and in case of repeated offense its highest executive can face up to 3 years in jail and millions in penalty. Dongwon has more than a 50% market share on canned tuna in South Korea. It also owns the biggest US tuna brand StarKist. Dongwon Industries has a history of illegal fishing and ranked at the bottom of Greenpeace’s South Korean sustainable tuna guide last year.
West Africa shouldn’t be a non law zone where foreign fishing companies just jump in and do their illegal business without respecting the local legislation. Greenpeace is calling the West African government to support sustainable fisheries by fighting against companies like Dongwon whose aim is to gain profit by any means, including illegal fishing activities. Greenpeace is also campaigning for a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of
the world’s oceans.
- Ahmed DIAME, Oceans campaigner Greenpeace Africa Email: ; Telephone: +221773328993
- Bakary Coulibaly, communications officer Oceans campaign, Greenpeace Africa, Email: ; Telephone: +221773336265
Notes to Editors:
1) http://www.liberiafisheries.net/ and http://www.stopillegalfishing.com/sifnews_article.php?ID=102