Pirate Boat Flees Authorities
Pacific – Thursday October 5, 2006 – A suspected pirate fishing boat has fled the Kiribati authorities and run to the high seas (1). The ship was boarded and inspected by crew and Kiribati fisheries officers onboard the Greenpeace ship the M.Y Esperanza, in a joint surveillance and enforcement operation. Greenpeace are calling for all Pacific Island countries to keep an eye out for, and to investigate on sight the Dongwon 117, part of the Korean owned Dongwon fleet. (2)
The Kiribati fisheries inspectors are onboard the Esperanza working with Greenpeace, to expose the major threats of overfishing and of the pirate fishing which aggravates it in the Pacific. (3)
The Dongwon 117 has been at sea for over a year, and has consistently failed to report to relevant authorities in this time. Not reporting means there is no way of knowing where the ship has been, nor how much of, or what it has caught. Greenpeace and the Kiribati officers boarded and inspected the Dongwon 117 late yesterday afternoon, and ordered her captain to stop fishing.
The Esperanza then stayed with the Dongwon 117 overnight until the Kiribati authorities could get their patrol boat to escort the vessel back to port for further investigation. However, this morning, after hauling in its fishing lines, the Donwon 117 made a break for the high seas. Greenpeace launched a helicoptor and the authorities again ordered the vessel to stop but it started steaming off at high speed.
“What greater proof do we need that this boat is extremely dodgy? Such blatant disregard for the Kiribati enforcement is typical of illegal fishing, which robs from our oceans, and from our people.” said Lagi Toribau, chief Greenpeace oceans campaigner onboard the Esperanza.
“We are calling for all Pacific Countries to be on high alert for this suspected pirate. The Kiribati authorities have to cover an area of over 3 million square miles, with just one small patrol boat. Foreign fishing nations such as Korea take advantage of this severe lack of resources. Korea consumes massive amounts of the endangered Yellowfin and Bigeye fresh tuna, and consumers worldwide do not know that the fish on their plates may be stolen.
Globally pirates steal up to USD $9 billion worth of fish a year. In the Pacific they take up to 4 times what the region earns in licence fees.
“If Korea and other nations want to fish in our waters then they must regulate their boats properly, pay a fairer price for their licences, and provide greater support for enforcement in the region. The Dongwon fleet has a very murky history of illegal fishing and it is up to the Korean government, and all foreign fishing governments, to control their fleets.”
Korea is a member of the regional Tuna Commission, (Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission). As such, Greenpeace is calling on the Commission and the Korean government to immediately remove the Dongwon 117 from their registers, and to take serious action against other licensed boats found acting illegally.
Greenpeace is in the Pacific as part of a 15 month "Defending our Oceans"(DOO) global expedition highlighting the beauty of and the environmental threats to the world's oceans, and calling for 40% of the world’s oceans to be made into marine reserves.
Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation, which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems and to force solutions essential to a green and peaceful future.