Five million in fines for illegal fishing
The Spanish authorities have handed out fines totalling five million Euros to six companies and six individuals investigated under Operation Sparrow 2.
Six companies were fined a total of â‚¬2.45 million, and and additional â‚¬2.88 million in fines were imposed on six persons who are believed to have been involved in operating Viking and Seabull 22, both of which had been engaged in poaching in CCAMLR waters.
According to MAPAMA (The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment), what is described as abundant documentation was obtained in a series of raids on company offices in La CoruÃ±a and Pontevedra in July 2015 that identified structures designed to conceal the management and ownership of the vessels.
This concealment included frequent changes of names and flags. Viking has also used the names Octopus I, Berber Snake, Pion, The Bird, Chu Lim, Yin Peng, Thor 33, Ulysses, Gale, South Boy and Pisces, while the Seabull 22 had also sailed as Itziar II, Carmela, Gold Dragon, Golden Sun, Notre Dame, Mare o Mare and Serenitatis.
The ministry names the companies as Capensis Trade, World Ocean Fishing and Global Sea Trading in Vigo and Insuabela, Baymarten Inversions and Lastiff in Ribeira.
In addition to the â‚¬5,270,000 in fines, this has been added to with a â‚¬60,000 fine for obstruction the investigation and destroying evidence.
The 70 metre Viking was the first vessel to be given an Interpol purple notice in 2013 at the request of the Norwegian government and arrested first in Malaysia, before being released. A subsequent arrest in Indonesia resulted in Viking being scuttled. Seabull 22 is believed to have been scrapped in Cape Verde some years ago.
â€˜IUU fishing is one of the greatest threats to the sustainable exploitation of living aquatic resources and is a major threat to marine biodiversity,â€™ commented a MAPAMA spokesman.
â€˜For this reason, Community law expressly prohibits nationals of Member States from granting any form of aid to IUU fishing or directly or indirectly benefiting from the activity of vessels included in the Community list of vessels of this type of activity fishery.â€™
â€˜In view of these practices, the legislative change made by Law 33/2014 has strengthened the Ministry's powers in the fight against IUU fishing by allowing inspections outside vessels and to obtain judicial authorisation when appropriate. This Resolution highlights, once again, Spain's determination to combat IUU fishing.â€™
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