Pirate fishing kills ocean life
COMMENT: Just borrow a leave from Somalia. Since 10 years effectively
without central government, Somalia's 3,300 km long coastline (the
longest of any African Nation) and territorial waters were - before and
after the fall of the former regime - the target for pirate-fishing
ventures from all over the world, stealing mainly tuna and shrimp and
destroying local, artisanal fisheries. Requests to UNOSOM (United
Nations [supposedly peacekeeping] Operation in Somalia), the EU and the
UN agencies FAO and UNEP to assist in protection of the 200 nm EEZ
(Exclusive Economic Zone), also protectd by Somalias unique Fisheries
Law, did not bear any fruits.
The contrary: The then High Commisioner for Fisheries of the European
Union (EU) Mme. Emma Bonino, born herself as a daughter of an Italian
living in Somalia before the war, started under her second hat as Head
of ECHO (European Community Humaniatrian Office) negotiations with
Somali warlords on "fishing rights" for EU vessels (i.e. protection of
the EU fishing vessels), thus clearly violating the United Nations
Common Law of the Seas (UNCLOS). Thereafter shady private
"protection-for-fishing-rights" ventures mainly from England and Italy
(quietly supported and not counteracted by the EU) gave out illegally
Only when Somalis realized that the threat to their natural resources
actually came from all sides and when local Somalis started, based on
UNCLOS, to stop, arrest and punish illegal intruders, the numbers of
poaching vessels dropped. While the International Maritime Organization
(IMO), who regularly issues warnings to vessels to stay off the Somali
coastline) and UN security officers call the Somali defenders "pirates",
the masterminds of the real pirates are sitting in Barcelona/Madrid,
Brussels, Rome, London, Seoul, Bangkok, Singapore, Mumbai and Abu Dhabi.
Certain critics state that the recent move to install a new central
government for Somalia, was just pushed and paid for by Italy, the EU
and UN in order to have a "legal" counterpart or further exploitation of
the seas and other resources of that country.
What is really going on is the gigantic fight of corporations and
nation-states to "manage" and exploit the food-needs of a still
exploding human population worldwide.
Those, who still have fish in their waters, only can be advised for
their own survival: Protect your waters by all means, close your gates
and shut out the intruders and the real pirates from outside and from
within. And local people, who feel weak to do so, should know: There are
friends to help your local protection efforts all over the world.
Greenpeace wades into Trevi fountain for protest
ITALY: February 26, 2001
ROME - Eleven Greenpeace activists waded into Rome’s Trevi Fountain last
week to protest against so-called pirate fishing before police carted
them away and slapped substantial fines on the group.
Holding cardboard cut-outs of fishing boats, fish skeletons and bright
yellow banners reading “Pirate fishing is killing our seas”, the
stern-faced environmentalists held a silent protest to coincide with a
United Nations meeting on illegal fishing.
The UN’s Rome-based Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) is starting
two weeks of meetings to tackle the problem of illegal, unreported and
unregulated fishing. But Greenpeace said the outlook was not hopeful.
“Judging by negotiations so far, they’re going to fail unless they agree
to close ports to pirate fishing vessels, close markets to pirate-caught
fish,” said Greenpeace member Desley Mather.
She said various countries, including Belize and Honduras, sell flags to
fishing companies for illegal fishing.
Because they are not party to regional fishing treaties, the countries
involved are not bound by rules such as fish quotas or regulations on
the type of nets that can be used.
According to FAO, about 30 percent of catches in some fishing areas are
As far as Italian police were concerned, Thursday’s fountain
demonstration was clearly illegal. Once the activists clambered out of
the 18th century fountain, they were taken away and fined 1.0 million
lire ($468) each.
The Trevi fountain, perched on the side of a building in central Rome,
features Neptune, God of the sea, towering over sparkling water jets
which attract thousands of visitors a day.
Police guard the huge monument 24 hours to stop tourists re-enacting a
scene from the film “La Dolce Vita” when a couple wade into the water
for a drenched but romantic moment.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
Fisheries’ Survival Depends on Pirate Crackdown
ROME, Italy, February 23, 2001 (ENS) - Attempts to stop pirate fishing
are doomed unless this week’s negotiations in Italy can improve on a
draft international plan, said environmental group Greenpeace, Thursday.
The Rome based UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is hosting
negotiations on the draft International Plan of Action (IPOA).
Formally known as the Second FAO Technical Consultation on Illegal,
Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, the meeting has drawn experts to
help develop a plan to deter and eliminate illegal, unregulated and
unreported fishing - better known as pirate fishing.
The FAO says pirate fishing is “widely recognized as a major threat to
the sustainability of the world’s fisheries.”
Pirate fishing vessels are blamed for the destruction of marine
ecosystems worldwide. Their unregulated nets and lines do not
discriminate between countless tons of fish and hundreds of thousands of
sharks, dolphins, sea turtles and endangered seabirds.
Central to the burgeoning pirate fish trade are so called flags of
convenience countries. Countries such as Belize, Cambodia, Equatorial
Guinea, Honduras, Panama and St. Vincent and the Grenadines allow
fishing boats to operate under their flags without controlling the
Unscrupulous owners use flags of convenience to avoid fisheries
conservation and management regulations, as well as safety and labor
Nearly three quarters of the world’s major fisheries are fully
exploited, overexploited, or depleted, according to the FAO.
There are 345 fishing vessels flying flags of convenience in the
Atlantic alone, according to the International Commission for the
Conservation of Atlantic tunas (ICCAT). Many of these vessels are owned
by companies based in European Union member states, primarily Spain.
Greenpeace estimates that there are some 1,300 industrial scale fishing
vessels flying flags of convenience worldwide.
On Thursday, Greenpeace members made a splash on the final round of
international negotiations by wading into Rome’s Trevi Fountain.
Protesters entered the fountain with four model fishing vessels bearing
what Greenpeace considers to be the four main flags of convenience -
Belize, Honduras, Panama and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The activists displayed a banner saying “Pirate fishing kills ocean
life,” before being arrested by police. Greenpeace backed up
demonstrations in Rome with similar protests in Brazil and Mexico
A Greenpeace report published this week explains how vessels up to 100
meters long sail for months on end under flags of convenience, casting
nets across the ocean floor up to two kilometers in circumference.
Such methods drag up and drown thousands of species besides the intended
catch. “Some 27 million tonnes of unwanted fish bycatch is caught,
killed and dumped back into the sea each year, because of unselective
fishing practices and gear,” said the report, “Pirate Fishing Plundering
Similarly, the bycatch of pirate longline fisheries in the Southern
Ocean surrounding Antarctica has claimed some 330,000 seabirds over the
last four years, including endangered species of albatross. The birds
are attracted to baits used in longline fishing for the lucrative
Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides).
The FAO estimates that 60 to 70 percent of the world’s major fisheries
are fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted.
Greenpeace is concerned that the draft IPOA falls short of closing ports
to flag of convenience fishing and support vessels, and closing markets
to flag of convenience caught fish.
The group wants companies prevented from owning or operating flag of
convenience fishing and support vessels.
Similar measures were announced last November by ICCAT. Established in
1969, ICCAT is responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna like
species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas.
Under a pirate fishing ban, ICCAT’s 28 members, including the United
States, Japan, China and the European Union’s 15 member states, must
close their markets to bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) caught by vessels
registered to the five flag of convenience countries.
The FAO is attempting to build upon ICCAT’s initiative by developing
similar measures worldwide. But the devil is in the details.
Brazil does not accept that countries must only allow charter
arrangements with fishing vessels and companies that operate in
compliance with international law. Mexico says restricting market access
or denying port access to flag of convenience vessels infringes upon
The European Union is reluctant to support any plan that calls on
governments to penalize companies based in their country which own flag
of convenience vessels.
Greenpeace calls Brazil, Mexico and the European Union “pirate
“In blocking tough regulations, these countries are protecting pirate
fishers at a time when fishery experts tell us that about three quarters
of the world’s fisheries are already fully exploited, overexploited or
depleted,” said Desley Mather of Greenpeace.
Greenpeace activists also protested in Mexico, a country the group calls
a pirate protector.
“The number of pirate fishing vessels is growing. It doesn’t take a
rocket scientist to recognize that unless this loophole in international
law is closed, more and more fishing companies will buy these flags to
dodge fishing rules at the expense of the marine environment.”
“If governments will not tackle these lawless fleets, how can they
expect to manage what is left?”
When the FAO meeting wraps up today, the IPOA will be submitted to the
24th session of FAO’s Committee on Fisheries, which will meet next
week. The Committee is the primary fisheries policy making forum within
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