Pacific News Minute: Greenpeace Busts "Illegal" Fishing Operation

Sep 22, 2015

Credit Alex Carvalho / Flickr

Last week, activists from the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior II boarded a Taiwanese fishing boat to expose what they describe as an illegal operation.  In response, the island nation of Nauru issued a ban on the practice known as transshipment.  Details, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Greenpeace said its boarders found more than a 150 pounds of shark fins taken from at least 42 sharks - but just three sharks recorded in the vessel's log.  Sharks are often caught by boats fishing for tuna, and according to Greenpeace - the fishing boat was transferring its catch to a larger mother ship.  In effect, the fish are laundered when the mother ship reaches port.  It's not clear where, or when, or who caught its fish.

In response, the government of Nauru announced a ban on all transshipments.  A statement from the Nauru Fisheries and Marines Resources Authority said, "These seas act like a safe haven for pirate boats and transshipment allows them to stay at sea longer and launder fish out of the area."  Lagi Toribau of Greenpeace told ABC radio that “if it's to be effective, the ban must be extended to the entire region.  If fishing vessels had to go to land to transfer their catch, it would solve many of the problems out here in the Pacific."  But he also noted that many Pacific nations have no way to enforce any regulation.  The national waters of Kiribati for example, are bigger than the continental U.S. but the country owns just one patrol boat.

Earlier this month at the Pacific Islands Forum - Australia and New Zealand pledged 43-million dollars between them for maritime surveillance to police Pacific fisheries.  At the same meeting, Feleti Teo, the director of the Tuna Commission said that cuts in the catch of bigeye tuna can no longer be delayed - while stocks of skipjack, yellowfin and albacore are only somewhat better off.