The worst names in IUU fishing in the southern Pacific / by Francisco Blaha

It was sad to read about the biggest “fishing boat” in the world, belonging to one of the fishing companies with the worst compliance records in the world, was reflagged to Peru and is now hanging around the Pacific… Particularly because they are still playing this dodgy game around after a long time.

  Length × Breadth:   228.61m × 32.24m...  the smaller one is just a big fishing boat.

Length × Breadth: 228.61m × 32.24m... the smaller one is just a big fishing boat.

Back in 2011 I was doing the evaluation on the EU IUU catch certification system in Peru, I found that there were some quite suspicious dealings by vessels owned by a company totally hypocritically called Sustainable Fishing Resources S.a.c, wich is allegedly in turn a proxy company of Pacific Andes, one of the worst offenders in terms of IUU fishing worldwide, which in turn is allegedly owned by the China Fishery Group, that has dodgy written all over it… which you will never know when you look at their websites.

All my enquires started with a vessel called “Franziska” that I found funny for a Peruvian Vessels, so I went in to find that it was a monster of 120 m in length, 19 beam, and holding capacity 4000 tons! The owner of the vessel in Peru, is a company named Pelagic Fishing Group S.A.C. 

 Franziska when she was registered in Callao under Peruvian Flag. She is back Dutch now

Franziska when she was registered in Callao under Peruvian Flag. She is back Dutch now

The vessel became Peruvian in 2009 in order to benefit from Peruvian high seas fishing permits under “Decreto Supremo 022-2009-Produce, que establecen medidas de ordenamiento para la extracción comercial a mayor escala de recursos hidrobiológicos transzonales (jurel y caballa) en la alta mar”. 

The permits allow fishing outside the 200 miles limit (alta mar) for two species - Caballa Scomber japonicus peruanus (Mackerel) and Jurel Trachurus spp. (Horse mackerel), in the context of creating historical catch records for the  “Organizacion Regional de Ordenamiento Pesquero del Pacifico Sur” (South Pacific RFMO), as noted under “Considerandos” (Considerations) Section, as well as Articles 2 and 12 of the decree. In fact, during 2009 the vessel caught fish in order to create “catch history” for both the EU and Peru, which is already per se contentious, leading to a claim under the SPRMFO.

At the time (2011) they were 12 vessels on Peru’s fishing permits register operating within this regulatory framework (they are currently 16 vessels!). However only 2 were operating in the pacific, 4 were in peruvian ports, and at least 6 were fishing in the Atlantic Ocean (!), one of this was the Franziska. The other vessels fishing in the Atlantic (former Russian Flagged vessels) were owned by Sustainable Fishing Resources S.a.c

 The african pacific

The african pacific

This was an infringement of the permit, and all catches have to be considered IUU. Furthermore the permit requires vessels to have VMS transmission and a Tecnico Cientifico de Investigacion - TCI (equivalent to an on-board fisheries observer) in article 13 and under Obligations (Clausula Quinta).  Moreover, the “Obligations” protocol requires them to limit fishing activities to just the two authorised species, to submit logbooks and to report arrivals to foreign ports. 

At the time (and I’m sure now too) the Peruvian Fisheries Authority only could access their position, but had no other records of compliance in terms of the requirements of the permit.

Peru, as part of its obligations as a flag state, should have taken measures against the vessel and its owners. As it is possible that unless proven otherwise, illegal landings and transhipments have taken place, and that a number of Peruvian flagged vessels are operating wholly outside functional Flag State control.

Zoom to the present

While the Franziska got his permit suspended and then re-flaged back to Holland (and now is named by Greenpeace as one of the 20 of the most destructive fishing vessels operating under European flags, ownership or management).  The other vessels that I found fishing illegally in the Atlantic still listed in the Peruvian Fisheries Authority Website, and still owned by the same company (Sustainable Fishing Resources), which has added a new vessel… 

Under this same permitting structure, we have now the biggest fishing factory in the world, the Ex Russian- and  Mongolian flagged Lafayette, which is now called Damanzaihao that has a Peruvian flag since July 16… and this one has also a stinky story. 

The Damanzaiha/Lafayette is a 49,367-gross ton converted oil tanker, that passed through New Zealand's exclusive economic zone in February and lingered in international waters to the east of NZ for several months, with a fleet of fishing trawlers, the Aurora, Pacific Champion, Pacific Hunter and Liafjord (from the same shell companies). 

 heading our way

heading our way

Since Aug. 13  Peru’s production ministry Produce requested SPRFMO for the vessel to take part in the fishery. Flag states must inform the secretariat of any vessels they authorize to fish under the SPRFMO at least 15 days prior to the vessels’ entry into the convention area. However, these Peruvian vessels (often linked to transshipment activities with Lafayette) showed up in the convention area on Sunday, Aug. 24. Obviously the ship is s transhipping jack mackerel without the permission of SPRFMO and is instead creating fake data something the Franziska was doing too.

 its position on the 23/9/2014

its position on the 23/9/2014

So… the dodginess continues, and I’m very disappointed that Peru continuous to play this game, because in reality… they don’t need to, they are a proud fishing nation that could lead Latin America in terms of compliance. In fact most of the “normal” fishing industry is surely is not aware of what is going on… and that this is just tarnishing the good name in terms of management and sustainability they are trying to build.

Unfortunately, this is a "game" played by people very high up, with closer ties to the power… as I found up when in 2011 an official complaint was made to the EU in regards my report, saying that all the findings i made (even if you could straight to the links in their database and i have pdfs of all the elements quoted), were not correct, luckily i was backed by my contractors and the report still stand.