February 19th, 2012, Esperanza: During its ongoing month long expedition to highlight the urgent need for marine conservation in India, activists from the Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza today encountered four Burmese vessels fishing illegally in the Indian economic exclusive zone (EEZ) off the Andaman Islands coast. The vessels did not have proper registration documents or a clearly displayed name. Their catch consisted of mainly shark and some yellow fin tuna. All four vessels left for Burmese waters as soon as the Esperanza caught up with them and contacted them.
Indian law only permits Indian vessels in its national waters and the EEZ. The abundant presence of illegal foreign vessels is again proof of the gaping loopholes in the failing Indian governance of their marine waters. Greenpeace called on the Indian Coast Guards to investigate these illegally operating fishing vessels and will continue to engage with them to redress the situation.
India’s marine management has been riddled with irregularities and poor enforcement which has resulted in overfishing and further degradation of India’s oceans. This not only leads to spread of illegal and unsustainable fishing practices in the Indian EEZ , but also loss of livelihoods for the Indian fishermen since the fish caught by the foreign vessels goes unreported and unaccounted for. The whole of February, the biggest and fastest Greenpeace ship investigates the threats posed to our oceans and therefore the livelihoods of hundreds of millions dependent on them. An estimated 10 to 12 million people in India rely on fisheries for food or employment, either directly or indirectly. The losses accrued from IUU fishing in the Indian EEZ, are estimated between $250 to $ 320 million annually.
”The occurrence of these illegal vessels is a perfect example of an industry that continues the unsustainable plunder of our oceans. To demonstrate that India is serious about controlling its own fishing industry and protect coastal communities, it needs to put an immediate end to practices of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing going on in our EEZ” Areeba Hamid, Greenpeace India Oceans Campaigner said.
"The Ministry of Agriculture has to put in place an effective fisheries management plan which is based on a sustainable approach, secures the livelihoods of millions, protects fragile marine ecosystems and stops pirate fishing. As part of its commitment to biodiversity conservation, India will host the eleventh Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in October 2012. As host nation, COP 11 is an opportunity for India to be a progressive and important player on the global conservation stage. But in order to be a true ocean conservation champion, India should take measures to protect its own territorial waters, on which millions depend upon, right now." Hamid said.
Areeba Hamid, Oceans Campaigner onboard the Esperanza, +475140 7986 (87, 88)
Shuchita Mehta, Communications Officer, Greenpeace India, +91 95609 90606
Annemarie van Hees, Communications Officer onboard the Esperanza, +475140 7986 (87, 88)