We caught an illegal tuna purse seiner (Queen Evelyn 168) in the Pacific Commons yesterday. This Philippines-flagged vessel was close to the transfer of tuna between her sister vessel and a refrigerated mothership. It was likely that the transfer of fish at sea, involving this illegal vessel, was about to occur. But upon our arrival the vessels immediately separated and fled the scene.
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 the Esperanza managed to catch up with the reefer
and were given permission to board by the Captain. They documented
the contents of the hold that consisted mostly of juvenile
yellowfin and skipjack tuna.
The Captain admitted to at least six other transfers of tuna
over the last month in the same pocket of international waters
between Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of Micronesia.
These transfers alone added up to 675 tons of skipjack and
yellowfin tuna onboard and were mainly from boats flagged from the
Philippines belonging to the same company, TPS Marine
Globally, $9 billion a year is lost to pirate fishing and
estimates in the Pacific range from $134 million to $400 million.
These pirates earn 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.
support Greenpeace’s plan to protect 40 percent of the world’s oceans as marine reserves