The "Rostock Pirates" exposed in Lithuania

Feature story - 30 March, 2006
Just 24 hours after the Esperanza took part in the arrest of a pirate fishing vessel at sea off the coast of Guinea in West Africa, Greenpeace activists exposed twelve pirate fishing vessels in Lithuania -- including our old friends "The Rostock Girls". The hulls of the vessels were painted with the banner “Stop pirate fishing”. We are demanding that Lithuania refuses blacklisted pirate vessels - and it looks like they are listening.

The blacklisted ship Juanitain the port of Klaipeda.

Activists paint the blacklisted ship the "Tifus" with "Stop pirate fishing" in Lithuania.

We catch up with the "Rostock Girls", pirate ships blacklisted for illegal fishing, in the port of Klaipedia, Lithuania.

This action is already the third against the very same trawlers. You might remember our "Spanish chorus line" - we exposed the blacklisted Georgian-flagged trawlers Eva, Isabella, Juanita and Rosita in Rostock harbour earlier this year, along with their sister-ship Carmen as it tried to get service at the Polish shipyard in Swinouscie earlier this month.

After talks with the Lithuanian fisheries inspectors, it seems they are happy to have our help. We will be working with them, and they have indicated that if our friend the Carmen approaches, she won't get a warm welcome.

The port of Klaipeda currently hosts twelve vessels which have been blacklisted by the EU, the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission or Norway for involvement in illegal fishing. Klaipeda's port is notorious for its poor feedback and registration system, which enables pirate vessels and convenience-flagged ships to land their illegally caught fish in Lithuania.

Our oceans campaigner Truls Gulowsen said, "It is completely unacceptable that EU member states like Lithuania violate EU law by giving these pirate ships shelter, fuel, service and assistance."

Something fishy

According to a Swedish TV4 documentary in January a significant proportion of the fishing in the Barents Sea is illegal and unregistered with shady links to the Russian mafia and Western fish product companies. Research carried out by Greenpeace revealed that illegally caught cod sold by the companies Kangamuit and Ocean Trawlers ended up on the European market in well known supermarket chains and retailers.

Out of Africa

While the demonstration took place in Klaipeda, the Esperanza was due to arrive in the West African port of Conakry, having escorted a pirate fishing vessel from the fishing grounds back to shore. The captain of the pirate vessel admitted his catch was being sent to Las Palmas - the fish laundering capital of the world. The Lian Run is also part of a family of vessels some of which fish illegally and some of which have been abandoned out to sea off the coast of Guinea, leaving crew on board rusting death traps for months on end waiting for a supply ship for food and fuel.

Ocean Defenders TV

Check out new footage of the Esperanza arresting pirates off the coast of Guinea, West Africa