Port Louis, Mauritius, April 21, 2013 – Seven Greenpeace International activists peacefully demonstrated in a Mauritian port on Sunday against a South Korean vessel accused of unlawful fishing in West African waters, demanding the Seoul government order the ship's recall.
The activists painted the word "illegal" in Korean and English on the hull of the FV Premier, owned by South Korea's largest tuna company, Dongwon Industries. Activists also held flags and banners calling the ship "criminal" in response to accusations of wrongdoing off the West African coast. The nationalities of the activists are Fijian, Taiwanese, US, Spanish, Indian, French and Italian.
"There is no place in the Indian Ocean or any other ocean for illegally operating vessels like the Premier. The South Korean government must immediately recall Dongwon's ship for a full investigation," said Greenpeace France oceans campaigner Francois Chartier in Port Louis.
"The longer this vessel is allowed to roam the seas, the more damage is done to the reputation of Dongwon and the South Korean government for failing to clampdown on illegal fishing."
The Premier is accused of illegal fishing off the coast of West Africa and faces criminal charges in Liberia for forging government documents. In March 2013, the ship was denied permission to enter Seychelles and several countries in the region, in response to the allegations made against the Premier, have refused to give the ship a fishing permit.
Following a request from Greenpeace International and other parties, the Mauritian authorities have prevented the Premier from off-loading its catch in Port Louis. The Mauritian authorities must now be congratulated for refusing the Premier permission to unload.
Mauritius will host a meeting next month of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). The region's tuna stocks currently hang in the balance due to a lack of data and widespread illegal and unreported fishing by both foreign fleets and smaller vessels across the region. Greenpeace is calling on the IOTC to take swift action at the upcoming meeting to crackdown on non-compliance and unsustainable fishing practices.
The peaceful protest in Port Louis coincides with the Greenpeace International Indian Ocean Ship Tour. The Greenpeace team on the ship MY Esperanza is promoting sustainable fishing while investigating illegal, destructive or wasteful operations in the region.
Greenpeace is calling for Indian Ocean tuna fisheries to be better managed to protect tuna stocks and the wider marine environment. Greenpeace also wants fisheries to shift their focus from distant nations to coastal states.