Plundering the Pacific 2008

Publication - 2 October, 2008
How transhipping at sea by Philippine fleets facilitates the launder and plunder of West and Central Pacific tuna

Plundering the Pacific
How transhipping at sea by Philippine fleets facilitates the launder and plunder of West and Central Pacific tuna
Greenpeace International, October 2008

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Executive summary: Greenpeace proposes that three pockets of international waters between Pacific Island Countries – the Pacific Commons – be closed to all fishing activities and designated as marine reserves. These areas of international waters appear relatively small in comparison to the huge areas falling within the Economic Exclusive Zones (EEZs) of some of the Pacific states; even so, they have great biological and ecological importance. Currently, foreign fishing vessels use them as an escape route to launder fish out of the region and provide a safe haven for pirate fishers because of the lack of regulation and enforcement in these areas.

During its nine-week expedition in the West and Central Pacific Ocean, the Greenpeace ship Esperanza documented both legal and illegal Philippines flagged and owned fishing vessels fishing and transhipping skipjack and yellowfin tuna catches in the high seas pocket between Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Indonesia and the Marshall Islands.

Transhipments at sea by foreign purse seiners are prohibited under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), but a special exemption is granted to the Philippine fleets. The majority of Pacific Island Countries do not allow transhipment at sea inside their respective Exclusive Economic Zones and require all vessels to come into port for transfer of catch.

It is widely recognised that, worldwide, transhipments of fish at sea facilitate illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. Unfortunately, it seems that the exemption given to the Philippinepurse seine fleet is exploited and taken advantage of by illegal Philippine vessels. The lack of monitoring, control and surveillance measures and resources in the region provides incentives for illegal vessels to operate side by side with legally registered vessels plundering the Pacific high seas.

Num. pages: 4