High seas alert as illegal fishing boat sets sail

Date: November 10, 2015

Source & Author: NT News

HOBART: A notorious black-listed fishing vessel which slipped out of a Thai port two months ago is believed to be plotting another illegal hunt in the Southern Ocean.

Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton in February hailed the interception of the Kunlun, saying the action by Australian authorities should send a strong message the government was committed to ensuring all vessels operating in the Southern Ocean did so legally.

The ship, reflagged as the Taishan, was subsequently detained in Phuket in March after Australian authorities alerted Thai counterparts.

But two months ago, under the cover of darkness, the ship left Phuket still carrying millions of dollars of illegally caught Patagonian toothfish.

Captain Peter Hammarstedt, of the maritime conservation group Sea Shepherd, said yesterday it’s believed the Kunlun is now headed for the Southern Ocean.

Australian authorities yesterday said they were working with international partners and law enforcement agencies, including Interpol, to locate the Kunlun.

“In the past the Kunlun has not operated illegally in waters subject to Australian jurisdiction but has fished in waters managed under the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources,” a spokesperson for the Australian Fisheries Management Authority said.

“While unable to take direct action as the vessel hasn’t been illegally fishing in Australian waters, Australia has worked with CCAMLR, Interpol and our international counterparts to enable and assist port states to take action under their national laws and home states to investigate and prosecute their nationals involved in (illegal) fishing activities.”

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