Source & Author: FIS.com
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and the Environment (MAPAMA) has initiated a disciplinary proceeding against the owners and managers of the vessels Thunder and Tchaw.
The measure involves nine natural persons and three legal persons, all of Spanish nationality, and has the purpose of debugging the responsibilities in relation to their participation in the ownership, management and exploitation of the two vessels. Both vessels have been identified by various international agencies as involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
According to the Spanish law, these facts are classified as a very serious infringement, which may include fines of between EUR 60,001 and EUR 600,000, as well as disqualification for fishing activities and prohibition of any kind of public aid.
This sanctioning proceeding is a consequence of Operation Sparrow 2, developed by the inspection services of the General Secretariat of Fisheries, in whose framework the headquarters of several companies in the provinces of A Coruña, Pontevedra and Orense were inspected on July 28, 29 and 30, 2015.
Thanks to these actions, numerous documents were obtained concerning the vessels Viking, Seabull 22, Thunder and Tchaw, all of which are included in the Community list of vessels involved in IUU fishing.
As regards the vessels Viking and Seabull 22, a dossier was processed, whose resolution revealed the existence of a business network for the management and operation of ships, by the use of non-community firms acting as a cover for the facts not to be discovered.
Six natural persons and six legal persons were punished with fines of EUR 5.27 million, together with sanctions for disqualification for fishing activities ranging from 5 to 14 years, and the prohibition of subsidies and public aids ranging from 5 to 12 years. In addition, one of the individuals involved due to the obstruction to the inspection work and document destruction, with a fine of EUR 60,000, was also sanctioned.
As for the vessels Thunder and Tchaw, which have initiated the sanctioning file, both have been included since 2010 in the list of IUU vessels. Since 2007 they have been identified by the Southeast Atlantic Fisheries Organization (SEAFO) for these practices, and since 2005 in the case of Tchaw and 2006 in the case of Thunder by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
To make it difficult to monitor their activity, these ships have operated under different names, making their IMO numbers essential for their identification. Thus, the ship Tchaw has also operated under the names Rex, Condor, Inca, Cisne Azul, Pescamex IV, Pescamex III, Arosa Cuarto and Pescacisne. For its part, the vessel Thunder has used the names Batu I, Raz, Ming No. 5, Thunder, Wuham No. 4, Kuko, Typhoon, Range, Rubin, Artic Ranger and Vesturvon.
The MAPAMA points out that this new sanctioning record demonstrates Spain’s firm commitment to combating illegal fishing by controlling Spanish flagged vessels, their waters, ports and imports of fishery products from third countries. Also by exercising its responsibility for all its national population, whether natural or legal persons, avoiding any kind of participation or support to IUU fishing, using all the instruments that Spanish, Community and international legislation have.
Thus, the Spanish Government continues the path marked by Operation Sparrow 1, which led to a sanctioning file whereby the Ministry imposed sanctions of EUR 17.84 million as well as the disqualification for the exercise of fishing activities of between 5 and 23 years. In addition, a ban on obtaining subsidies and public aid was set for periods between 5 and 26 years due to being linked to the Kunlun, Yongding, Songhuaand Tiantai vessels as well as the really serious obstruction to the inspection work and destruction of evidence.