Hoisting a new flag to combat pirate fishing: blacklist.greenpeace.org

Press release - October 2, 2008
Greenpeace today launched an online database of fishing vessels involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and the companies that own them.

The 'IUU blacklist' goes public just as New Zealand officials attend the West and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting today in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, to discuss increased regulation of tuna fishing in the Pacific where IUU fishing of the regional tuna stocks is rife (1).  

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing - often referred to as "pirate fishing" - has become a global scourge.

"It is a multi-billion dollar business that affects many communities, especially from developing countries such as those in the Pacific that can least afford to be robbed of their livelihoods and sustenance," said Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Karli Thomas. "It leaves the marine environment bruised and battered, undermining food security and attempts at sustainable management."

Globally US $9 billion a year is lost to pirate fishing and estimates in the Pacific range from US$134 million to US$400 million. Pirate fishing amounts to four times more than Pacific Island states earn in access fees and licenses.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Oceans campaigner Lagi Toribau said two things can be done to reduce piracy.

"Transfer of fishing catches at sea should be banned and marine reserves created in international waters which are bound by Pacific Island countries, which are off-limits to all fishing.  This would close off a safe escape route currently open to pirates illegally fishing adjacent to national waters," he said.

The Greenpeace IUU blacklist (blacklist.greenpeace.org) is the first one-stop independent record of fishing vessels, support vessels and companies involved in pirate fishing.  It includes independent observations from the legal fishing industry, government authorities, and first-hand evidence from Greenpeace and other NGOs who have recorded the activities of these vessels and companies at sea and in port.

"It's time for greater transparency: for fish purchasers, retailers, and the public to see who is involved in pirate fishing and for ship owners to start taking responsibility for their role," said Karli Thomas.

Several tuna species are listed as 'don't buy species' on Greenpeace New Zealand's Red Fish List, a consumer guide that lists 12 of the most unsustainable seafood species currently available on retail shelves. (2)

"Currently most tuna on New Zealand supermarket shelves fails doesn't show the country of origin, how it was caught and what company is doing the catching. Kiwi shoppers have the right to know this information," concluded Ms Thomas.

Greenpeace advocates the creation of an effectively enforced network of marine reserves, protecting 40% of the world's oceans - with regulated, sustainable fishing in other areas - as the long-term solution to overfishing and the recovery of marine life in our overexploited oceans.

Other contacts: Karli Thomas, Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner 021 905 582 Suzette Jackson, Greenpeace New Zealand communications manager 021 614 899

Notes: (1) 4th Regular Session of the Technical Compliance Committee of the West and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. (2) The Red Fish list www.greenpeace.org.nz/SOS includes popular but in peril species such as orange roughy, tuna and arrow squid. All the species listed in the Greenpeace guide are at high risk of having been sourced from overfished stocks, having been caught using destructive fishing methods, or both.

Exp. contact date: 2009-08-07 00:00:00

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