Illegal fishing vessel intercepted
18 December 2009
An illegal fishing vessel, Carmela, was intercepted by a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3K Orion in the Ross Sea during a routine fisheries patrol on Wednesday 16 December.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, and Fisheries Minister, Phil Heatley, are seriously concerned that the Togolese flagged vessel was found in the area managed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing poses a severe threat to the sustainability of the valuable toothfish fishery and the protection of ecosystems in the Southern Ocean.
The Carmela was using deep sea gillnets which are banned in the CCAMLR Convention Area and can have serious impacts on non-target marine species and the marine environment through ghost fishing by lost or discarded nets.
The Carmela is believed to be the former Gold Dragon which is one of a number of vessels included on CCAMLR’s IUU vessel blacklist.
New Zealand has reported the sighting to CCAMLR, to ensure that other Commission Members do not allow the vessel to use their ports or allow the import of any fish caught by the vessel.
The Ministers praised the RNZAF personnel involved for their skill in detecting the vessel in the vast and inhospitable Southern Ocean.
New Zealand is committed to combating IUU fishing in the CCAMLR convention area, and conducts regular surveillance patrols in support of CCAMLR, which is part of the Antarctic Treaty System.