Estonian ship caught in the act, hiding its catch
By Greenpeace International
Edited by Federico Ferrero
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Northwest Atlantic, 10 August 2005
Greenpeace swimmers with flares and a buoy reading "stop deep sea destruction" clung to the bow of the Estonian flagged bottom trawler Lootus II in the foggy Northwest Atlantic protesting what is happening out of sight in international waters. Greenpeace is calling on governments to take action to stop the destruction of deep-sea life by bottom trawlers, particularly operators such as the Lootus II.
The Greenpeace ship Esperanza has been observing the Lootus II for 30 hours, 18 of which she has been bottom trawling continuously, which is highly irregular. Greenpeace suspects that they e refusing to haul in their nets because they are being watched.
"It's a scandal that this boat is even permitted to bottom trawl here or anywhere. Not only does the Lootus II have an appalling record of breaking the rules here in the Northwest Atlantic, but its owners are connected with the illegal fishing of Patagonian toothfish in the Southern Ocean", said Bunny McDiarmid on board the Esperanza.
The Lootus II has been cited seven times since 2000 for breaking NAFO (1) 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, the Ross (3).
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.
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.
"The Lootus II is the worst example of NAFO not working. Allowing IUU operators to sit at the table making decisions about fisheries management that their vessels will then simply ignore is like inviting the wolf into the chicken house", added McDiarmid.
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. The Esperanza has observed 20 boats bottom trawling in the area from Japan, Spain, Estonia, Latvia, Canada, Lithuania, Iceland and Portugal and documented a number of these during their trawling and hauling operations. The next meeting of NAFO parties will take place in September 2005 in Tallinn, Estonia.
Notes to editors:
1. Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) is a regional body designed to manage the fishing in international waters off the coast of Canada.
2. The Lootus II has been cited seven times since 2000 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 Norway's 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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