Fishing vessel Viking, identified by CCAMLR as involved in IUU fishing. (Photo: CCALMR)
Record opened to determine links between Spaniards and IUU fishing vessels
Tuesday, August 09, 2016, 22:20 (GMT + 9)
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment has started a file to clarify the responsibilities in connection with the participation of Spanish natural and legal persons in the ownership, management and operation of the vessels Viking and Seabull 22.
Both ships have been identified by various international organizations as vessels involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. IUU fishing is one of the greatest threats to sustainable capture of living aquatic resources and for marine biodiversity.
This initiative, which is part of Operation Sparrow 2, continues the path marked with Operation Sparrow, which led to the disciplinary proceedings by means of which the Ministry imposed sanctions for more than EUR 16 million as well as disqualifications of fishing activities for a period between 5 and 23 years. It also meant the prohibition on obtaining subsidies and public aid for periods ranging between 5 and 26 years, due to the link of Spanish natural and legal persons with the vessels Kunlun, Yongding, Songhua and Tiantai.
The current record is derived from the inspections performed, prior judicial authorization, as part of the so-called Operation Sparrow 2, by the inspection services of the Fisheries General Secretariat at the headquarters of several companies in the provinces of A Coruña and Pontevedra, on July 28, 29 and 30, 2015.
During these inspections extensive documentation (over 10,000 documents) were obtained and their analysis revealed the existence of a business network, allegedly aimed at concealing the ownership, management and operation of the above mentioned vessels from the Spanish authorities.
The Ministry of Agriculture notes that EU regulations expressly prohibit nationals of Member States provide any assistance to IUU fishing or benefit directly or indirectly from the activity of the vessels included in Community lists of this type of fishery activity.
The State Maritime Fisheries Act provides for penalties ranging between EUR 60,001 and EUR 600,000, as well as the disqualification of fishing activities, the loss of fishing licenses or the prohibition for any government subsidy or support.
Viking and Seabull 22 vessels have been identified by various international bodies, such as CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Resources) or SEAFO (Organization of South East Atlantic Fisheries) as ships involved in IUU fishing. For this reason, in 2010 both were included in the EU list of illegal vessels.
In order to hinder the pursuit of their activities, both vessels have habitually been renamed. So the Viking ship has also used the names Octopus I, Berber, Snake, Pion, The Bird, Chu Lim, Yin Peng, Thor 33, Ulysses, Gale, South Boy or Pisces while the Seabull 22 is also known as Itziar II, Carmela, Gold Dragon, Golden Sun, Notre Dame, Mare or Mare Serenitatis.
The Ministry stresses that Spain continues to pursue a policy of zero tolerance for the detection of such practices, not only with regard to Spanish flagged vessels, also in relation to activities of their nationals with respect to stateless vessels or those having flags of third countries, anywhere in the world.
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