After almost two months of efforts coordinated by Interpol and the cooperation of seven countries on four continents, the Indonesian Armed Forces arrested one of the most wanted pirate ships in the world.
On January 29, the Chinese fishing vessel Hua Li 8 was detected fishing within the EEZ of Argentina, and began a chase in which three boats and a helicopter from the Argentinean Navy participated. But not even the shots were enough to stop it.
After the incident, the Judicial Power of Argentina issued an international arrest warrant against the Asian boat, under the category of 'Purple Notification', allowing other nations to take action in line with the request of Argentina.
"On Friday April 22, on the Earth Day, the Indonesian Navy was informed on the presence of the ship in its territorial waters, so they did not hesitate to stop the boat and take it to port. There, at the request of the Judicial Power of Argentina, they proceeded to the inspection of the ship, and to take statements from crew members," informed Milko Schvartzman to FIS.com.
Last part of the chase of the 'Hau Li 8' (L). The Chinese jigger operating in the South Atlantic, on February 16, 2016 (R).
In a note sent to FIS, the marine conservation specialist emphasizes that although there is destructive fishing within the EEZ of the States, what happens in international waters is even more serious, and much less is known.
In this regard, he notes that the Hua Li 8 is a pirate ship, or one practicing IUU (Illegal, unreported, unregulated) fishing and that it is just one of a fleet of the thousands ships raging the waters of the countries that have limited ability to control their sovereign resources, or simply prey in international waters that are uncontrolled.
A foreign vessel accused of illegal fishing activities being destroyed and sunk. (Photo: Pakistan Defence)
"This boat, as many others, uses slave labour, does not meet any safety sailing standards, and much less those regulating fisheries management or environmental protection," argues Schvartzman.
"China not only has the largest fishing fleet in the world, but its ships are sent to all corners to explicitly plunder the resources of the least developed countries."
"In Asia, Africa, and Latin America, swarms of fishing vessels that are subsidized by the Chinese State, plunder fishery resources, destructing local coastal economies and damaging the entire marine ecosystem," he adds.
But the growing number of Chinese fishing vessels detained for illegal fishing so far has not been enough for the Government to take action in this regard, and the situation does not seem to improve.
Schvartzman stresses that Indonesia is constantly bullied by pirate ships, especially from China, a situation that keeps both countries under a high diplomatic tension.
"Because of the extent of the problem, authorities maintain a tough policy against illegal fishing," he adds. In 2014, Indonesia established the 'Presidential Task Force to Combat Illegal Fishing', and has taken "dramatic and bold actions against the captured ships, such as using dynamite and making them blow up," he comments. He emphasizes that there are more than 170 illegal fishing boats that were destroyed in this way.
Just a week after the incident with the Hua Li, another Chinese fishing boat was detected by the Argentinean Naval Prefecture (PNA). During the chase, the Asian boat tried repeatedly to ram the military ship, which eventually plunged the Chinese jigger in an incident with high global impact.
With regard to the measures taken at international level to address the scourge of illegal fishing, Schvartzman mentions that in its resolution 69/292, June 2015, the United Nations Organization (UN) decided to create a global agreement binding on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond the national jurisdiction, under the Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
"We have begun meetings of the Preparatory Committee for recommendations on the content of the future Agreement, it will take some years for its entry into force, and it is still a challenge to ensure that all conservation and management aspects are included," he comments.
In his opinion, this is a great step to prevent the destruction of the oceans, "but it is not enough in the fight against IUU fleets that run against the clock to remove the last fish, and exploit the lives of thousands of enslaved crew."