GLOBAL - The marine conservation organization Oceana has welcomed the decision made during the last meeting of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (SPRFMO), held in Valdivia, to keep vessel Damanzaihao –also known as Lafayette– in the black list of illegal fishing vessels.
Almost a year ago, the organization banished the ship from the Pacific in spite of the appeal filed by Sustainable Fishing Resources, the company that owns the vessel.
“The Damanzaihao is a huge threat for oceans due to its enormous storage capacity; therefore, stalling its operations for an additional year is a tremendous success. Controlling illegal fishing both in national and international waters is an urgent task to achieve the sustainability of fishing resources, particularly in the case of overexploited migratory species like jack mackerel”, said Liesbeth van der Meer, Oceana’s Fisheries Campaign Manager.
On February 6, 2015, the RFMO included the Damanzaihao in the list of fishing vessels that carry out illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing operations, after it identified unauthorized transshipments and provision of erroneous information to officials about frozen mackerel cargo, a fishery currently under risk of collapse due to overfishing.
The Peruvian-flagged vessel was included in the RFMO’s black list, reason for which the Production Development Ministry of Peru revoked its fishing license and heavily fined Sustainable Fishing Resources.
The sentence was appealed by the company to remove the ship from the list and resume activities and while the Ministry’s Superior Chamber of the Appeals Court annulled the fine, it decided to resume the procedure to establish new sanctions. Therefore, the Damanzaihao will remain in the list during one more year based on the unanimous decision of the RFMO’s Compliance Commission.
“The decision made by the RFMO shows that regional organizations can be efficient administrative fishing regulation venues, advancing the control of IUU fishing both at the national and international levels. This is the only way to achieve the sustainability of cross-border fishing resources and recover overexploited fisheries with high commercial and social relevance, like the jack mackerel”, added van der Meer.
This vessel was built in 2008 by the making over of an old tanker to transform it into the largest fishing vessel in the world, which operates as a mother ship to store and transport the catches of other trawling fleets. It then classifies, processes and freezes the cargo on-board, taking it to different markets.
The Damanzaihao is a threat for marine ecosystems not only because of its large storage capacity that amount to 49,000 tons per month, but also because it is permanently involved in IUU fishing, changing its flag regularly to evade controls. According to estimates, if this ship were to operate on a daily basis, it would be able to store 547,000 tons of annual fish, exceeding the global mackerel quota in almost 250,000 tons.
In the last RFMO meeting, held in Valdivia from January 25 to 29, mackerel fishing quotas were defined. It was unanimously agreed to keep 2015’s global quota which is equivalent to 460,000 tons. Therefore, Chile will keep its allocation of 297,000 tons, which corresponds to 64.6 per cent of the global quota, while Peru will remain with 7,400 tons.
TheFishSite News Desk