EJF launches urgent alert on illegal fish destined for Korea Published: 10 October, 2013
The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) has released an alert warning of the imminent arrivalof illegal fish in the Korean port of Busan.
EJF documented the Korean-flagged Kum Woong 101 fishing illegally in Sierra Leones Inshore ExclusionZone (IEZ) – an area reserved by law for local fishers using artisanal canoes – on 18th and 19thSeptember. EJF investigators used Satellite Automatic Identification System (S-AIS) technology toidentify the 470-tonne Kum Woong 101 fishing within one nautical mile from Sherbro Island, where localcommunities are heavily reliant on fishing for their food and income.
Also using satellite-based monitoring, EJF documented Kum Woong 101 transferring its illegal catch ontoa Dutch-flagged refrigerated cargo vessel, Holland Klipper, on 20th September in neighbouring Guinea.The transhipment is believed to have been in breach of both Guinean law, and European Regulations,which prevent EU vessels from transhipping with non-EU vessels at sea.EJF investigators were able to confirm the transhipment by speaking with the Captain of Holland Klipperon a satellite phone. The Captain confirmed to EJF that he had received 4,385 boxes of fish from KumWoong 101, and that the cargo was destined for the Korean port of Busan. He also said transhipmentshad been carried out with two further vessels with histories of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU)fishing, the Korean-flagged Seta 70 and the Guinean-flagged Ulia.Korea has recently been under pressure as a result of the illegal activities of its fleet, particularly ininshore areas of West Africa. But despite legal reforms announced earlier this year, and a commitment toinstall Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) on all boats, there is continued evidence of rampant illegalfishing in a number of West African countries. Three Korean-flagged vessels are currently under arrest inLiberia following reports in recent months of illegal fishing, highlighted by coastal communities.In July 2013 EJF called on the EU to restrict imports of Korean fishery products, when it launched itslatest report Keeping Illegal Fish out of Europe. The report highlighted how a number of flag States,including Korea, are failing to properly control their fishing fleets, and that many EU countries are failing to implement proper controls to block the entry of illegal fish.EJF works with local fishing communities to generate IUU Alerts (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated)aimed at stopping the trade in illegally-caught fish and providing evidence so illegal vessels can besanctioned. Since the project began in 2010, a number of vessels have been fined, fish has been blockedfrom entering the EU, and all the vessels documented by EJF to be operating illegally have ceasedtrading through the Spanish port of Las Palmas. Despite this success, EJF has identified a lack ofcontrols by some other EU countries and illegal fish being transferred to large-scale refrigerated cargovessels and transported to Korea.EJF is now calling on Korea to block the import of illegal fish. Holland Klipper is due to arrive in Busan inlate October with the illegal cargo onboard. EJF is also in communication with authorities in theNetherlands and the European Commission who are urged to investigate the HollandKlipper’s transhipment activities. EJF has also notified Belgium, where the charterer of the Dutch-flaggedvessel is believed to be based.Steve Trent, Executive Director of EJF, said:Illegal fish is still getting to market and we need to go further in employing the latest technologiesalongside simple, effective and cheap mechanisms such as a Global Record of Fishing Vessels whichwould give each industrial fishing boat a unique identification number.The communities affected by these illegal operators are under grave threat, and so are the fish stocksthey rely on for their daily protein and income. We are now calling on Korea to demonstrate theircommitment to combat pirate fishing by blocking the import of fish from Holland Klipper and sanctioningthe boats involved in this illegal activity. If they cannot do this, the EU should actively consider restrictingtrade from Korean-flagged vessels.