Activists in Rostock Harbour chain four pirate fishing boats together, handing over the keys to the German authorities.
You rename your fleet like aSpanish chorus line: Eva, Junita,
Rosita, Isabella and Carmen. Then forgood measure you change their
nationality from Dominica (a tiny islandin the Caribbean) to
Georgia (former Soviet state on the Black Sea).
You've changed your boats "flag of convenience" three times in
the last five years, in 2002changing your flag from Russia to
Cyprus, deciding in 2004 you prefer the colours ofDominica.
Now you fly the flag of choice for pirate fishing vessels
-Georgia. And of course, when your boats aren't plundering the
highseas, destroying deep sea life and stealing fish from some of
thepoorest countries in the world, they're docked in Rostock
Being blacklisted for repeatedly engaging in pirate fishing in
the North Atlantic means thatEuropean ports cannot supply your
ships with fuel, provisions or anyother services, you cannot sell
your fish and cannot charter yourboats. Which is strange because
you are currently docked in a Germanharbour, preparing to head back
out to plunder our oceans.
We're afraid that a change of name and flag can't hide your
truecolours. That's why we've locked up four of these illegal
fishing boatsin Rostock harbour and handed the keys to the
responsible regional andfederal ministers. We want the
Germangovernment to prevent these pirate fishingvessels leaving
Update - The One That Didn't Get Away
Under cover of darkness, the fifth vessel in the blacklisted fleet sneakedaway to Poland. Activists have paid a visit to the Carmen, in the port of Swinoujscie, wrappingit in chains and hanging a banner that reads "Stop Pirate Fishing".
TheCarmen is currently in dry dock, presumably in preparation for anotherbout of pirate fishing. As in Germany, where the sister vessels wereillegally re-supplied, the Polish government are so far ignoring theirobligation to prevent the Carmen from re-supplying, despite its beingblacklisted for repeated breaches of European, north east and northwest Atlantic fishing regulations.
"The fact that the German government allows known pirate
fishingvessels to set sail is incredible," says Andrea Cederquist,
marinebiologist at Greenpeace Germany. "Knowing these ships are
leaving portwithout making sure they will keep to international
fishery agreementsin future is unacceptable."
Pirate fishing vessels are an enormous problem, particularly on
thehigh seas and in the coastal waters of developing countries.
Theysteal fish - often the staple food - from some of the poorest
countriesin the world and destroy the livelihoods of fishermen who
These trawlers have set their sights on either plundering the
richfishing waters off the coast of West Africa (Mauritania) or
goingfarther afield to trawl the depths of the Pacific. Both are
regionswhere proper controls are lacking and pirate fishing is
Pirate fisheries are estimated to cost countries between
US$4-9billion each year. They also wipe-out the unknown worlds of
thedeep-sea. Many pirate vessels are engaged in a fishing technique
calledbottom trawling which is known to cause huge destruction to
vulnerabledeep-sea marine life such as cold water corals.
convenience allow a vessel to fish virtually anywhere on thehigh
seas with impunity. Pirates buy flags of convenience from
"openregistries" that have few or no limitations on accepting
foreignvessels and make little pretence of any genuine link to the
vessel.These registries offer a loophole around many
Initially, companies and individuals took advantage of flags
ofconvenience to evade tax and/or reduce safety requirements,
tariffs,labour requirements and other shipping regulations.
However, asregional fisheries management organisations developed,
unscrupulousfishing vessel owners began to reflag under flags of
convenience toavoid fishing regulations or limitations on
Because these flag states do not usually belong to regional
fisheriesmanagement organisations, they are not bound by their
decisions andregulations. Therefore, they allow pirates flying
their flags tocontinue their destructive activities.
Obtaining a flag of convenience is as easyand quick as afew taps
on the keyboard. Any notion of genuine link is cynically putaside
for a few dollars and registration is sometimes provided within24
Over the next few months, in partnership with the Environmental
JusticeFoundation, our ship the Esperanza will expose
how fishing pirates inthe Atlantic are wiping out marine life
and destroying the livelihoodsof the communities dependent on our
oceans for food.
So what needs to be done to stop this? Our Oceans Campaigner
SariTolvanen thinks governments should put their money where their
mouth is- and now. "They need to stop these boats from leaving port
supporta UN moratorium on high seas bottom trawling. This
wouldsend a signal to pirates that their days of plundering the
oceans areover," she said.
Become an Ocean Defender
Send a signal to governments everywhere and sign up as an Ocean Defender.
Help us stop more pirate fishing and convince governments to act to bring about a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling,