Greenpeace Exposes Tuna Pirate in the High Seas

Press release - 9 May, 2008
Today Greenpeace exposed an illegal tuna purse seiner, the Queen Evelyn 168, in a pocket of international waters between Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of Micronesia. This Philippines-flagged vessel was at the site of a transfer of tuna between her sister vessel and a refrigerated mothership, the Kenken 888. It is likely that a transfer of fish at sea involving an illegal vessel was about to occur, but the arrival of Greenpeace prevented it from taking place as the vessels immediately separated and fled.

"Transfers of fish at sea are well know to be facilitating piratefishing around the world now we also have the proof of this in thePacific. It is unacceptable that this is still allowed to continue",said Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner Lagi Toribau on board theEsperanza. "The pockets of international waters between Pacific islandcountries are especially prone to pirate activities and should beclosed down to all fishing. Transfers of fish should only be allowed tohappen in port so they can be monitored properly."

The Queen Evelyn 168 is not authorised to undertake any fishingactivities in this part of the Pacific,. All vessels were registered tothe Philippines. The Queen Evelyn 889 and the Kenken 888 have legalpermission to operate in this area.  However, Greenpeace is demandingthat tuna transfers happen only in port, where the amount of the catchcan be accurately monitored. "At-sea transfers result in massiveunderestimation of the Pacific tuna catch. For years tuna havedisappeared unreported on motherships like this. The Western andCentral Pacific Fisheries Commission - which is supposed to protecttuna from overfishing - is clearly failing to do so. The only hope forPacific tuna fisheries and the tuna themselves is to close the PacificCommons to all fishing as marine reserves and to ban all transfer offish at sea," said Toribau.

Last week, a report was released (1) that estimates that on top ofthe known fish catch, at least another 34% is stolen by pirates in theWestern and Central Pacific.

Greenpeace activists were laterable to board the mothership with the permission of the ship's Captainand documented the contents of the hold predominantly of juvenileyellowfin and skipjack tuna. Activists obtained information from theCaptain about six other transfers of tuna he had done over the lastmonth in the same pocket of international waters. These transfers aloneadded up to 675 tonnes of skipjack and yellowfin tuna onboard and weremainly from boats flagged to the Philippines belonging to the samecompany, TPS Marine Industries.

Greenpeace ship, Esperanza, is in the Pacific for the fifth week todefend the pockets of international waters between Pacific Islandcountries - the Pacific Commons - as marine reserves (2) from greedyfishing fleets intent on fishing out the world's last tuna stocks - theworld's favourite fish. These motherships, known as 'reefers' are agateway for laundering tuna out of the region.

"Scientists have been warning for years that bigeye and yellowfintuna are suffering from overfishing. This takes on a whole new lightwhen you realise that secret catches haven't been included in thesituation. Bigeye and yellowfin tuna are most probably in a worsetrouble than scientists have predicted," continued Toribau. "We need toact now and cut the fishing effort by half within the waters of Pacificisland countries to save these fisheries."

60% of tuna eaten globally each year comes from the Pacific headingmostly to markets in Japan, the European Union and United States.

"Wecannot allow the fishing industry to destroy the last tuna stocks.Greenpeace is asking supermarket retailers across the world to stopselling unsustainable tuna products such as bluefin, bigeye andyellowfin which are now threatened in all oceans. Retailers must act asgatekeepers, ensuring that fish sold on their shelves is not caught bypirates or originate from vessels that have transferred catch at sea.Otherwise consumers could be complicit in purchasing stolen goods fromthe Pacific or elsewhere," said Sari Tolvanen of GreenpeaceInternational.

In the last month Greenpeace has taken action against overfishingby Korean, Taiwanese and US boats and confiscated a fish aggregationdevice (FAD) from the water that intensifies the overfishing and alsofreed marine life from the hooks of a long-liner.

Greenpeace advocates the creation of a network of marine reserves,protecting 40 per cent of the world's oceans, as the long term solutionto overfishing and the recovery of our overexploited oceans.

Other contacts: Dean Baigent-Mercer, Communications officer on board the Esperanza: +872 324 469 014 (GMT + 11);John Novis, Photo Desk, London: +44 (0) 7801 615 889;Maarten van Rouveroy, Video Producer, Amsterdam: +31 (0) 20 718 2000Greenpeace International Press hotline: +31 (0) 20 7182470

Notes: (1) download images and footage of today's action and background vision go to: photospassword: greenEnter folder called "Defending Our Pacific".To download high resolution pictures, right click and "save image as".