Damanzaihao (ex Lafayette) in the SPRFMO IUU Vessels List. / by Francisco Blaha

In late September las year I wrote about this Oil-tanker/Fishing Boat lingering in the south pacific under Peruvian flag. I'm happy to report that it has been included into the is on the final list of vessels marked as engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing drafted by the SPRFMO's (South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation) technical and compliance committee. Also on the list is Avrora, (Aurora), now  Russian-flagged trawler previously known as Pacific Conqueror under Peruvian flag, whose unlicensed activities I also mention in that post.

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.

Last year Damanzaihao carried the name Lafayette, and was flying a Russian and then a Mongolian flag. It passed through New Zealand's exclusive economic zone. Later, in international waters east of the North Island, it met upwith four other fishing vessels and a fleet tanker. While the Aurora has been listed as an IUU vessel because of "fishing in the SPRFMO Convention Area without authorisation (air photographs from New Zealand and prolonged unauthorised presence in the SPRFMO Area (evidence from Chile)".

As I reported, the direct owner is listed as Sustainable Fishing Resources, with the email address belonging to the domain of the Peruvian fishmeal producer Copeinca, bought by China Fishery in late 2013).  China Fishery Group, is a Bermuda registered fishing company belonging to the Hong Kong-listed Pacific Andes International Holdings. And  Pacific Andes is a well know and extremely powerful mafia type Frozen Fish conglomerate with long time IUU allegations, as the linked OECD report from 2005 already shows.  

The owners said it was "disappointed" to be on the list. "We believe that inclusion on the IUU list is out of proportion with the minor nature of the allegation against the vessel" the company said, in a statement. "This support vessel has no capability to catch fish. The allegation made related only to the provision of food, water and fuel to authorized catcher vessels prior to the date on which the support vessel was authorized by the Peruvian government". Transshipment, however, is classified as a fishing activity by the SPRFMO.

Unfortunately Peru (a country I work with its medium size industry and like a lot- see here and here)  fought "very hard" to oppose the committee's decision. The country attended the meeting in Auckland with lawyers representing Pacific Andes and a minister.  However, until such time that acceptable sanctions have been put against the vessel, the ships should remain on the list, but surely what is "aceptable" for Peru may not be the same that aceptable for other countries... particularly in terms of the ingraining that these "players" seem to have in the Peruvian regulatory system, I reported these issues in early 2011 and 4 years later not much has changed.

The SPRFMO is a multinational fisheries management organization that came into force in 2012 in a bid to fend off a collapse of Pacific mackerel that has seen the stock fall from 30 million tonnes to just three million in two decades.

For a vessel to be removed from the IUU list, SPRRMO stipulates that the vessel's flag state needs to show it has adopted measures so that the vessel conforms with SPRFMO rules and that it will continue to effectively monitor and control the vessel's operations in the SPRFMO area. The flag state also needs to show it has "taken effective action in response to the IUU fishing activities in question including prosecution and/or imposition of sanctions of adequate severity". Alternatively to the sanctions, it can show that the vessel has changed owners, and that the previous owner "no longer has any legal, financial or real interests in the vessel or exercises control over it".

Under SPRFMO rules, members and cooperating non-contracting parties agree to take "all necessary non-discriminatory measures" available to them to sanction IUU vessels.
These should include removing the vessels' fishing permits for resources managed by the SPRFMO, to prevent them from fishing but also transshipping, refueling, carrying cargo or otherwise supporting fishing vessels. Sanctions should also seek to prohibit IUU vessels from entering to the country's port, "except in force majeure" or from being chartered.

Members should also refuse to grant their flag to vessels of the IUU list, except if there is sufficient evidence to determine this will not result in IUU fishing, while prohibiting imports, landings, transshipments, processing and purchasing of species covered by the convention from any IUU vessel. Finally, the rules say members agree to collect and exchange information to search for, control and prevent false import/export certificates for species covered by the SPRFMO from vessels on the list.

As I insist in many of my posts, IUU fishing is a really complex issue that goes from the the type of hook and the size of fish all the way to beneficial ownership, and implicating a variety of issues from illegal immigration, human trafficking, drug trafficking to tax evasion. And all this is just beyond the impact on fisheries management.

Sources here and here