Oceana denounces Spanish owned pirate fishing vessel and asks for tough measures against IUU fishing

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) is discussing measures against IUU fishing in Rome this week

Press Release Date: May 13, 2010

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

Oceana has documented and urged action by the Spanish government against the IUU fishing vessel “Furabolos” (IMO 8604668), now named “Eros 2”, and flying a Panama flag, currently in the port of Santa Eugenia de Ribeira in Galicia, Spain. IUU means “illegal, unreported and unregulated” fishing and it is a major contributor to overfishing and one of the biggest threats to the oceans. Vessels that fish with banned nets or in protected areas often take juveniles or target fish from stocks that are already on the brink of extinction.


Furabolos” is a pirate vessel and even though authorities were informed of the fact in February  2008, today, more than one year later the vessel is in a  Galician harbour, without detention and is still not scrapped. Spain, as port state and home to the owning company must begin not only to talk about the fight against IUU fishing but actually do something about it”, says Ricardo Aguilar, Director of Investigations at Oceana Europe.


According to the crew onboard, “Furabolos” was fishing for deepsea sharks. The oil from their valuable livers, called Squalene, is used in the cosmetic industry. The “Furabolos” was observed in international waters of the Northeast Atlantic without the correct licences in February 2008 and transferred to the NEAFC IUU B list in July 2008[i]. Since that time, “Furabolos” was not allowed to enter any port of a NEAFC contracting party under the organisation’s rules. But even though blacklisted, the Furabolos entered the port of Tenerife in October 2008 and left again some days later and then entered the port of Santa Eugenia de Ribeira in November 2008. The same month, after more than a four month delay, the European Union finally also banned the “Furabolos” from entering any European Union port. Lloyds Register Fairplay, a company that provides information about vessels, names the Spanish company Albacora as the owners of Furabolos.

For decades, the number and power of fishing vessels in the European Union has far exceeded the available fish resources. One measure to reduce this overcapacity on paper was simply to “export” the vessel – meaning flagging the fishing vessel to another country – the process was often even subsidised by the European Union. This measure obviously did not reduce the problem of global overcapacity and overfishing, but shifted the responsibility for the fishing vessel in a lot of cases to developing countries that often have no possibility to control its activity effectively. The “Furabolos” is a typical example of how the irresponsible export of European Union fishing vessels to developing countries leads to illegal fishing. In 2004, the originally Spanish vessel “Furabolos”, at that time already owned by Albacora according to Lloyds Register Fairplay, was exported to the Seychelles with taxpayers’ money from the European Union and received a Seychelles flag; but in 2008 it was fishing illegally in the Northeast Atlantic. Today the vessel is named “Eros II” and re-flagged to Panama, a typical cheap “Flag of Convenience”, easy to register with and often chosen by owners of poaching vessels to hide their identity.


“This is just one typical case of an IUU fishing vessel and it shows the criminal energy of the owners, using different flags and different names. We need tough FAO Port State Control measures for fishing vessels and fish transport ships to uncover these pirates, scrap their vessels and stop illegal fishing. The measures in place under the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control, that aim to eliminate the operation of sub-standard ships, has worked successfully for many years by  refusing port access to blacklisted banned  vessels.  It can be used as an example to finalize the negotiations on the FAO instrument that is being discussed this week”, adds Aguilar.


This week, governments from the across the globe are negotiating legally binding Port State Control measures and a global list of IUU fishing vessels at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome. Oceana asks governments to finalize this important instrument in the fight against IUU fishing quickly and asks in particular for a ban on IUU vessels from entering any port and obligatory inspection by port states for vessels owned by, or linked to, owners or operators that have been involved in IUU fishing previously. Additionally, Oceana urges nations to agree on a global IUU vessel register that is available to the public, including names of owners and operators of the vessels.  



Oceana has high resolution photos of the “Furabolos” harboured in Ribeira port