Greenpeace confronts "world's biggest" tuna vessel – Fishupdate.com

Greenpeace confronts “world’s biggest” tuna vessel Published:  27 May, 2008

The Greenpeace ship Esperanza

TODAY Greenpeace says it has taken action against the biggest and most “devastatingly efficient” tuna catching vessel in the world, the Spanish owned purse seiner Albatun Tres.

According to Greenpeace, the vessel was caught deploying its net inside Phoenix Islands off Kiribati, a proposed Marine Protected Area.

The Greenpeace ship Esperanza has been following the vessel for the past five days. This Albatun Tres is so big, it is known as a ‘super, super seiner’.

Activists laid a 25 metre floating banner reading ‘No Fish, No Future’ into the net in an attempt to prevent the net from being hauled.

Activists first found the Albatun Tres on May 22 when the vessel was in international waters north of Kiribati. During the last five days, the Greenpeace ship has followed the vessel across over 1,000 nautical miles and most likely prevented the vessel from fishing during that time.

The Albatun Tres can net more than 3,000 tonnes of tuna in a single fishing trip. This is almost double the entire annual catch of some Pacific countries. Yet unsatisfied, the Spanish owners of this ‘super, super seiner’ vessel are said to be looking to bring even more vessels to fish in the region, Greenpeace claims.

“The Albatun Tres has arrived to the Pacific from the Indian Ocean earlier this year. The Pacific tuna stocks are in decline and there simply isn’t enough fish in the sea to fill the holds of these huge vessels.

“Adding more vessels to those already allowed to fish guarantees that there will be no fish left for the future. It is insane that the fishing industry is following a business model where it wipes out its long term viability for short term profit,” said Lagi Toribau Greenpeace Australia Pacific Oceans campaigner on board the Esperanza.

The Albatun Tres is owned by Albacora, a large Spanish tuna company that is part of OPAGAC, a powerful association of Spanish tuna boat owners, processors and traders.

According to Greenpeace, the super seiners of OPAGAC have a questionable history in the region. Some boats represented by OPAGAC, such as the Albatun Tres, fish under the EU agreement with Kiribati. But, that agreement does not allow for any private licensing of European Union country flagged vessels. So OPAGAC is also acting on behalf of several other former Spanish-flagged purse seiners now fishing under the flags of Latin American countries, Greenpeace says.

Nine of these Latin American vessels have entered the region under private agreements and were granted a special exemption by the Tuna Commission last year. Some of the vessels now represented by OPAGAC were caught pirate fishing in the region last year, the conservation organisation claims.

“Greenpeace has evidence to show that OPAGAC is approaching Pacific island countries to try and get more licenses in complete breach of the spirit of the specific exemption granted by the Tuna Commission last year,” said Toribau.

“This is completely unacceptable. These companies have no shame and target the poorest and most vulnerable countries. This has to be stopped.”

Greenpeace is calling on Pacific island countries not to entertain this disturbing behaviour and forbid any future private business dealings with OPAGAC.

“Time and tuna are running out. Vessels of this size cannot be left to plunder and empty out the remaining tuna stocks and need to be taken off the water and scrapped immediately in order to address the overcapacity of the world’s tuna fleets,” said Sari Tolvanen of Greenpeace International.

The Greenpeace ship Esperanza has been in the region for the last eight weeks highlighting the overfishing of tuna. During the time at sea, the activists have taken direct non-violent action against fishing fleets from Taiwan, Korea, the US, the Philippines and now Spain.

Greenpeace advocates the creation of a network of marine reserves, protecting 40 per cent of the world’s oceans, with strictly regulated fishing in all other areas as the long term solution to overfishing and the recovery of our overexploited oceans.

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