We caught an illegal tuna purse seiner (Queen Evelyn 168) in the Pacific Commons on Friday. This Philippines-flagged vessel was close to the transfer of tuna between her sister vessel and a refrigerated mothership. It was likely that transfer of fish at sea, involving this illegal vessel, was about to occur. But upon our arrival the vessels immediately separated and fled.
Greenpeace activists from Fiji and Papua New Guinea stand on juvenile yellowfin and skipjack tuna in the hold of a vessel that was caught tansferring fish six times in the last month in the Pacific Commons.
These motherships, known as 'reefers' are a gateway for
laundering tuna out of the region. Fish transfer is known to happen
Pacific Commons but it has never been documented before. This
area is especially prone to pirate activities and tuna have
disappeared unreported on motherships like this for years.
Activists from our ship, Esperanza, managed to catch up with the
reefer and were given permission to board it by the Captain. They
documented the contents of the hold that consisted predominantly of
juvenile yellowfin and skipjack tuna.
The Captain admitted to at least six other transfers of tuna he
had done over the last month in the same pocket of international
watersbetween Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of
Micronesia. These transfers alone added up to 675 tonnes of
skipjack and yellowfin tuna onboard and were mainly from boats
flagged to the Philippines belonging to the same company, TPS
The illegal tuna purse seiner, Queen
Evelyn 168 (background) next to the reefer (KenKen 888) and her
sister vessel (foreground).
Globally US $9 billion a year is lost to pirate fishing and
estimates in the Pacific range from US$134 million to US$400
million. These pirates earns four times more than Pacific Island
states earn in access fees and licenses.
We can do two things to reduce piracy: ban the transfer of
fishing catches at sea and create marine reserves in the Pacific
Commons, off limits to all fishing. This would close off a safe
escape route currently open to pirates illegally fishing adjacent
Greenpeace has reported the illegal purse seiner to the Western
and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and our ship, Esperanza,
continues to defend the Pacific Commons.
Ask the UN to create of a network of marine reserves by protecting 40 percent of the world's oceans so that fisheries and marine life can recover.
We can't keep our ships at sea without your help. We don't accept any funding from governments or corporations, relying entirely on people like you to keep us going.