Greenpeace blockades Pacific-bound unregistered Tuna ship in Taiwan harbour

Press release - 24 January, 2011
Activists from the Greenpeace flagship the Rainbow Warrior today prevented the departure of fish carrier MV Lung Yuin, demanding that Taiwan's Fisheries Agency (FA) properly investigate and as appropriate, prosecute the ship’s owners, who are in apparent breach of Taiwan’s laws. A Greenpeace activist chained himself to Lung Yuin's anchor chain with a banner reading "FA, investigate Now.”

Greenpeace activists on inflatable boats - including Fijian team member Ronetava Ronaivakulua - also displayed banners with the message "The Last Tuna" beside the Lung Yuin which is destined to collect tuna from the Pacific Ocean.

Taiwan's Fisheries Agency confirmed to Greenpeace early this morning that the vessel's owners have not registered their flag of convenience operations in Taiwan as required by Taiwanese law (1). The previous night, Greenpeace called attention to the Lung Yuin by projecting messages including "Illegal in Taiwan?" "Investigate now!" and "Pacific tuna plunder" on the side of the ship. The Lung Yuin has been apprehended in Japan for illegal fishing and has faced allegations of human rights abuses in recent years (2).

"Reefers like the Lung Yuin facilitate the large scale tuna plunder of the Pacific region and it should not be allowed to use Taiwanese ports unless it can at least comply to simple requirements that it register its operations with Taiwan's Fisheries Agency. This vessel has a history of involvement in illegal fishing operations and we have no confidence the vessel will respect international fisheries laws when it appears to be illegal even in Taiwan," said Yu Fen Kao, Greenpeace East Asia Oceans Campaigner.

Greenpeace, in its campaign to defend the Pacific, is today making known its concerns over the vessel's operations in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, where it conducts transhipments at sea with Taiwan's vast long-line tuna fleets. Scientists have warned that Pacific bigeye and yellowfin tuna stocks are already in sharp decline because of legal and illegal overfishing. Long-line fishing is poorly regulated and pirate fishing is thought to be commonplace among long-line fleets (3).

"Greenpeace is calling on consumers and corporate seafood buyers to reject unsustainable tuna products coming from the kind of shady industrial vessels operating in the Pacific like the Lung Yuin.

The lack of action by the members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to ensure the sustainability or even the legality of long-line fishing in the region is putting tuna stocks on a one-way road to collapse.  It's time for governments to act and get down to the business of sustainable tuna fishing," added Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International Oceans Campaigner.

Greenpeace is calling on Taiwan to support better international regulation of the Pacific tuna fisheries and the creation of large no-take marine reserves in the Pacific "high seas pockets"(4) and close them to all fishing. In addition, Greenpeace is demanding the reduction of fishing efforts by 50% and a ban on transhipment at sea immediately so that tuna stocks and our oceans can sustain future generations.

Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world's oceans and for a more sustainable fishing industry, both necessary steps to restoring our oceans to health.

Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, is currently in Taiwan on its Ocean Defenders Tour of East Asia.  It is campaigning for protection of our oceans and for stopping the depletion of marine species such as tuna.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Sari Tolvanen, onboard Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace International, +31655125480

Arthur Dionio, Greenpeace International Communications,  +886 983172785

James Lorenz, communications manager in Sydney, +61 (0)400 376 021

Duncan William, Oceans Campaigner in Fiji, +679 9926232

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. Details of Greenpeace's full investigation into the extent of Taiwan's Flag of Convenience vessel and those ignoring the requirement to register their operations with Taiwan Fisheries agency. All data and report are available here.

2. Japan apprehended the vessel in 2004 for violation of the reporting requirements to the Japanese authority when the vessel stayed in Shimizu, landing frozen tunas. This lead to the large scale exposure of Taiwan's long-line fleet fishing illegally.

The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has also documented its abuse of workers, as seen in International Transport Workers' Federation, 'ITF Seafarers' Bulletin', no. 19, 2005

3. The global extent of IUU fishing was  reported by MRAG and University of British Columbia (2008). It is estimated that the amount of IUU fishing in the region is between 21-46% of all fishing activities, the majority of which would be conducted by the long-line vessels.

4. The " high seas pockets" are areas of the Pacific Ocean that lie between the borders of Pacific Island nations, key tuna spawning grounds in which illegal fishing operations are common.

For more information on the Greenpeace East Asian Ocean Defenders

tour.

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