Pirates of the Pacific caught illegal tuna fishing

Press release - 24 November, 2011
International waters, 25 November, 2011 – Activists from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza interrupted an illegal transhipment and demonstrated against illegal fishing in a tuna-rich area called the Pacific Commons (1).  The illegal, unregistered purse seine vessels were caught fishing and transhipping in international waters near Indonesia, an area closed by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (2) and the island nations’ governments to purse seine fishing.

The unnamed vessel with no flag or nationality but with Filipino crew was caught illegally transhipping its catch to a carrier vessel, the Lapu Lapu.

"It is outrageous and completely unacceptable that these vessels and their owners violated efforts by the region to protect their tuna stocks, key to their food security and economic prosperity. We call on the members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries  Commission (WCPFC) to take action on these vessels, prosecuting the vessel owners
and blacklisting them from further fishing. In addition, seafood companies must end their complicity in this kind of crime by refusing to source tuna from the Pacific Commons,“ added Lagi Toribau, Campaigner on board the Esperanza.

Greenpeace is currently engaged in its "Defending Our Pacific" expedition, a campaign to stop the unsustainable plunder of Pacific tuna by ending the use of destructive fishing practices, an end to illegal fishing and the creation of marine reserves in the Pacific
Commons. Activists on board the ship have also removed three illegal floating Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) found in the Pacific Commons.

With tuna stocks in other oceans now depleted, fishing fleets from Asia, USA, and Europe have turned their attention to the Pacific, the source of more than half of all tuna consumed globally.

“Pacific bigeye and yellowfin tuna stocks are in ever deepening trouble. Purse seine vessels are largely to blame due to their efficiency in catching tuna. Large-scale tuna purse seiners can take in two days what it would take local fishermen an entire year to catch. In addition, purse seiners use FADs that entice fish -- including already vulnerable juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tunas, sharks, turtles and other marine life  -- to a single location to be scooped up by purse seine nets,” said Mr Toribau.

Pirate fishing is known to be particularly rampant in the high seas and areas such as the Pacific Commons where monitoring and surveillance is difficult. It is estimated between 21-46% of all fish caught in the Pacific is taken by pirate fishing ships such as this one (3).

“This case clearly demonstrates the urgent need to close the Pacific Commons to all fishing and ensure regional enforcement is ramped up,” said Mr Toribau.

Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans and for a more sustainable fishing industry. Greenpeace is working with retailers across Europe, Australia and the Americas to increase the market share of
sustainably-sourced tuna.

(1)     http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/oceans/marine-reserves/pacific-tuna-need-marine-reserves/
(2)     Also referred to as the Tuna Commission, WCPFC is an intergovernmental body governing fisheries in the Pacific, http://www.wcpfc.int/
(3)     http://www.mrag.co.uk/Documents/ExtentGlobalIllegalFishing.pdf

Photo and video available.

Keiller MacDuff, on board the Esperanza, +47 2367 7986
Steve Smith, Greenpeace International Communications: +668 1298707