Greenpeace intercepts pirate fishing vessel and demands its arrest

Press release - 20 September, 2005
Greenpeace today confronted another unregulated bottom trawler, the 'Kerguelen', and prevented her from setting her nets in the international section of the Barents Sea, known as the 'Loophole'.

The trawler's captain admitted to Greenpeace that he was knowingly bottom trawling for deep sea fish with no legal quota and therefore engaged in illegal, unregistered and unreported (IUU) fishing, also known as pirate fishing. Activists from the Greenpeace ship 'Esperanza' used inflatable boats to interrupt the destructive fishing activities of the 'Kerguelen', and placed a banner on her hull branding her as a pirate vessel.

Pirate fishing is exacerbating the problem of overfishing, which is the greatest threat to the sustainablility of marine biodiversity and global fisheries. Both issues need to be addressed urgently at the highest international level.

"The 'Kerguelen' is already blacklisted as a known pirate vessel by the European Commission. Our discovery of her fishing illegally again today in the Barents Sea illustrates the total lack of control over fishing in international waters. We will give this information to the Commission along with the demand that she be arrested if she enters a European port to land her catch," said Brad Smith, Greenpeace Nordic campaigner onboard the 'Esperanza'.

The French-owned 86m long 'Kerguelen', currently flagged in Togo, is believed to have been fishing under several different flags of convenience in recent months. Both the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) and the European Commission have placed the Kerguelen on a list of vessels that have been confirmed as having engaged in IUU fisheries. However, the authorities in the EU countries where illegally caught fish is landed have no legal obligation to seize cargoes or arrest the vessels involved, even if information and evidence of illegal activities is provided to them by policing states.

Greenpeace is calling for an immediate UN moratorium on high seas bottom trawling to stop the indiscriminate destruction of deep-sea life. It is also calling on the international community to urgently develop legally binding, international agreements that strengthen enforcement measures to stop IUU fishing. Key among these is the need for a common inspection regime in ports receiving fish. This would enable local authorities to arrest and seize catches and vessels in cases of documented illegalities. The true owners of such vessels must also be brought to account.

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation, which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force the solutions, which are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Other contacts: Contacts on board the 'Esperanza' Satellite phone +871 3244 69010 Brad Smith, Greenpeace Nordic Campaigner, Dimitri Litvinov, Greenpeace Campaigner, Stefanie Werner, Greenpeace Germany Campaigner

VVPR info: Picture desk +31 20 718 2058 Video available on request. weblog.greenpeace.org/arcticseas