The Gea Org.

Greenpeace discovers pirate fisher companies fishing in international waters

By Greenpeace International

Edited by Federico Ferrero


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Northwest Atlantic, 3 August 2005

The Greenpeace ship the Esperanza currentlyin the Northwest Atlantic area heard a routine radio call to all EU vessels fishing in the NAFO area (1). The Lootus II and the Madrus were called, suggesting that these boats are both back fishing in the area.

The Estonian flagged Lootus II has been cited numerous times since 2000 for breaking NAFO rules (2). The Estonian Company MFV Lootus OU is the registered owner of the Lootus II. In 2004 the Spanish company Grupo Oya Perez, through one of its subsidiaries became a shareholder of the Estonian company. Grupo Oya Perez is the owner of the notorious pirate Patagonian toothfish vessel, Ross (3). Madrus is similarly jointly owned by the Estonian registered company, MFV Lootus OU with Spanish interests.

Greenpeace is calling on Estonia and Spain to explain why it is allowing vessels, owned by a company with a criminal fishing history to continue fishing in the Northwest Atlantic management area also known as NAFO.

"If NAFO cannot get its act together on this very simple level what hope is there that they can address the destruction of deep sea biodiversity from bottom trawling operations, said Mariajo Caballero on board the Esperanza." "NAFO should institute a moratorium on this fishing practice immediately until it has its house in order," added Caballero.

In 2003 and in 2004, the EU delegation to the NAFO meeting included three members from Grupo Oya Perez. The EU and NAFO must be aware that this company's fishing vessels have been involved in illegal toothfish fishing in southern waters, but despite this they are invited to participate in NAFO decisions on fisheries conservation matters and measures to deter Illegal, Unregulated and Unreporting (IUU) operations.

"It's totally counter productive to efforts to manage fisheries sustainably to have IUU operators sitting at the table making decisions about fisheries that their vessels will then simply ignore. Its like inviting the wolf into the chicken house", said Caballero.

The Esperanza is in the NAFO area to highlight the destructive impact of bottom trawling in support of the call by more than 1,100 marine scientists and environmental organisations for a UN moratorium on high-seas bottom trawling.


Notes to editors:
1. Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) is an international body designed to manage the fishing in international waters off the coast of Canada.
2. The Lootus II has been cited seven times for NAFO violations including fishing for species under moratoria and exceeding by-catch regulations. The latest citation was December 2004.
3. The Ross under a variety of names has been photographed illegally fishing for toothfish in the sub Antarctic in 2003 and again in 2005 fishing in an area closed to fishing by CCAMLR (The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources). The Ross is also on Norways blacklist of fishing vessels.
4. Citizens can participate in an online alert urging decision makers to support a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling at http://www.greenpeace.org/stop-bottom-trawling
5. For details of the tour and to follow the Esperanza's diary visit: http://weblog.greenpeace.org/deepsea.

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