Oceana: ICCAT cannot ignore pirate fishing happening in its waters

Pirate vessel in the Convention area switched identity with Libyan tuna longliner

Press Release Date: November 15, 2014

Location: Madrid


Oceana Web | email: webadmin@oceana.org | tel.: 202.000.0000

Today, Oceana has called upon the 49 Contracting Parties to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to examine and take action on activities related to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the ICCAT Convention area, involving pirate vessels that are blacklisted by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe stated, “Pirate fishing is an environmental crime and damages legal fishermen. It should be addressed in a coordinated and effective manner by all Regional Fisheries Management Organisations and coastal states. because Illegality respects neither geographic nor species boundaries. ICCAT has to look beyond just tuna fisheries, and support efforts to halt IUU-fishing in the Atlantic Ocean once and for all.”

At the annual meeting of ICCAT this week, Oceana reportedthe case of two IUU vessels, Snake (currently named Viking), and Itiziar II, which have been blacklisted by CCAMLR for more than a decade for illegal activities in Antarctic waters. In 2013, while fishing illegally, these vessels switched identities with Libyan-flagged longliners, registered under ICCAT, by adopting their IMO numbers (unique vessel identifiers) and radio call signs. According to an Interpol purple notice, Snake used the identity of two different Libyan tuna longliners (Alnagm Al Sata and Al Fajr Almunir) to avoid detection. In 2013, Oceana identified Itiziar II in the port of Mindelo (Cape Verde) using the IMO number of a third Libyan tuna longliner, Al Shafq.

Despite the fact that the pirate vessel Itizar II was active in the ICCAT Convention area during 2012 and early 2013, and the implication of certain ICCAT-registered vessels in this case, ICCAT has not yet discussed or taken action to address this issue.

ICCAT has under its purview the management of tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent waters, including the Mediterranean Sea. Oceana is currently attending the annual meeting of ICCAT in Genoa (Italy), as an observer, calling upon the 49 Contracting Parties to:

–          Ensure that the quota of eastern bluefin tuna is maintained or set within the most precautionary limits advised by scientists.

–          Rebuild overfished Mediterranean swordfish.

–          Adopt measures to eliminate shark finning in the Atlantic Ocean and to protect threatened shark species.

–          Ensure full compliance in ICCAT fisheries.

Learn more: ICCAT