Fishy cod reefer ‘Mumrinskiy’ back in town

Feature story - January 9, 2007
You may remember our fishy friend, the cod reefer Mumrinskiy, from last year. The Mumrinskiy is now again in a Dutch port. She has taken the same detour to avoid inspection as last August, and was carrying fish from the same suspicious vessels. So it’s easy to see that some of her cargo is most likely once again illegal and being laundered in Holland.

Fishy cod reefer the Mumrinskiy is back in town.

The Mumrinskiy returned to Holland in the early hours of last Friday morning, and we decided to welcome her back! Normally a ship's ETA is announced in advance and made public on port websites.

Tracking down the Mumrinskiy

However in this case, the Mumrinskiy's expected arrival was not published. Dutch inspection authorities, customs and port authorities were not willing to divulge any information and it was even denied that she was coming to the Netherlands.  Once again she had taken great pains to avoid inspection in Norwegian waters, and once again she was carrying cod from the suspicious catch vessels Yaroslavets, Kronshtadt, Solomboloa, Ponoy & Antares.

On Thursday morning however her ETAwas briefly made public on the website and then quickly removed again.   With the knowledge of her arrival and the suspicions of her freight, we faxed (and mailed) the Dutch Minister for the Environment and the Inspections Authorities of her arrival and our demands. We have not yet received a response. We again demanded a thorough inspection, verifying catch data with the Norwegian and Russian authorities as a minimum, in accordance with the new regulations imposed by the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC).  These regulations will become compulsory in May 2007, but considering the history of the Mumrinskiy, we think it's much smarter for Dutch authorities to act now.

Turning a blind eye?

On Friday morning we set out in an inflatable to the harbour of Velsen to document her arrival and offloading.   Our Oceans Campaigner Farah Obaidullah spoke with the buyer of the fish, the second mate of the Mumrinskiy, the manager of the cold store, the inspection agent and the police (who funnily enough escorted us most of the way there). The Inspection authorities said that they were conducting their routine inspection and that they did not wish to comment on the legality of the fish.

Interestingly the buyer of the fish was not in the least concerned about the legality of their newly purchased goods. This again goes show how important it is that we have transparency in the chain of custody of marine goods - from ship to shelf. Each player has to take his or her responsibility in the fight against illegal fishing.

History repeating

Last August in the Dutch harbour of Eemshaven, our team onboard the Arctic Sunrise targeted the Mumrinskiy carrying illegal cod from the Barents Sea for offloading in the Netherlands. At the time we had 9 activists chained to the ship and painted the words 'Stop Pirate Fishing" on the side of it. Our demand was that the Dutch inspection authorities carry out a thorough inspection of the cargo, verifying the catch papers with the Russian and Norwegian authorities.

The Barents Sea is home to one of the world's last relatively healthy cod populations, but even this stock is now being heavily exploited. According to estimates from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) 25 percent of all cod captured in the Barents Sea in 2005 was illegal. Pirate fishing puts added pressure on fish stocks already struggling to recover from intensive industrial fishing.

We do not believe Dutch authorities can continue to let this organised fish crime happen, and call on all measures to avoid illegal fish to be offloaded in Holland.  And of course, we will continue Defending Our Oceans against pirate fishing, in both boiler suits and business suits.

Mumrinskiy Case Study

The case against the Mumrinskiy.

NEAFC Regulations

The full regulations that will become compulsory on May 1, 2007.