Foreign vessel admits fishing illegally in New Zealand waters
26 November 2010
Once again, fishing illegally in New Zealand waters has proved expensive for the owners of a foreign fishing vessel. The Taiwanese owners of the Vanuatu flagged tuna long-liner Fu Chun 126 have acknowledged that their vessel fished illegally in New Zealand waters and have paid $NZ220,000 in sanctions to the New Zealand Government.
The vessel was discovered by a patrolling Royal New Zealand Air Force P3K Orion in late 2009, some 70 nautical miles inside the northernmost part of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), to the north of the remote Kermadec Islands. The Orion photographed the crew of the Fu Chun 126 preparing fishing gear for use and with fish they had already caught still visible on the ship’s deck.
The vessel did not hold a New Zealand fishing permit making its actions illegal under New Zealand’s fisheries law.
Officials from New Zealand and the flag state, Vanuatu, worked very closely to make sure that the owner was held to account for their vessel’s illegal activities.
Ministry of Fisheries Acting Chief Executive, Andrew Coleman says this latest settlement is another satisfactory outcome which should send a message that illegal fishing activity within New Zealand’s EEZ will not be tolerated.
“The cooperation of the Vanuatu authorities was a critical element in resolving this unfortunate matter,” he said, “both countries have committed to enhancing cooperation on fisheries issues into the future”.
“Protecting New Zealand’s valuable fisheries from the threat of illegal fishing, especially in remote areas like the Kermadecs, is something we take seriously,” says Mr Coleman.
“Our maritime patrol capability, which includes the Navy and the Air Force working with the Ministry of Fisheries, continues to do an excellent job deterring illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity,” Mr Coleman said.
“Close cooperation with neighbouring Pacific Island countries and regional agencies is also paying dividends in joint work to protect the shared tuna and billfish fisheries of the South Pacific”.
Mr Coleman says New Zealand has worked closely with Tonga, Samoa, Niue, Tokelau and the Cook Islands to develop the Te Vaka Moana and Te Vaka Toa Arrangements which provide for a range of joint activities that will protect and support the sustainability of fish stocks in the region, while at the same time ensuring that the maximum sustainable economic benefits can be gained from those fish stocks.
“These arrangements will enable member countries to work in a highly effective, coordinated way to protect our fisheries and the marine environment,” he said.
Another tuna long-line vessel was also identified the same day by the RNZAF crew, around 12 miles away from the Fu Chun 126. The owner of that vessel, the Taiwanese flagged Ta Chun 101, also made a payment of NZ$220,000 to the New Zealand Government in September 2010 after acknowledging the vessel had breached New Zealand fisheries law.