Pacific Fisheries Standoff

HMNZS Wellington intercepts suspected toothfish poachers

HMNZS Wellington intercepts suspected toothfish poachers

We don’t often talk about fisheries, because normally the operations are routine, but something interesting is happening in the western Pacific.

BBC reports the New Zealand Navy OPV Wellington (which looks a lot like Eastern’s design for the OPC) has intercepted three Equatorial Guinea flagged (but believed to be Spanish owned) fishing vessels apparently fishing illegally for Patagonian Toothfish, commonly called Chilean Sea Bass, a highly valued and overfished resource. Despite being given permission to board by the flag state, the fishing vessels are resisting efforts to board.

Australian advocates are pointing to this incident as evidence Australia’s apparent inability to do what New Zealand is doing. There is more here.

This does appear to be symptomatic of inadequate enforcement.

Generally, it appears, that our own efforts in the Western Pacific may also be inadequate. It is probably not common knowledge that the US EEZ around islands West and South of Hawaii is larger than our EEZ around Alaska, the West Coast, or the East and Gulf Coast, and many of the fish taken in these waters are extremely valuable. In spite of new tasking in the area, we don’t seem to be giving this area much attention. There is also the question of who polices what would be the Antarctic EEZ if any country had sovereignty their.

4 thoughts on “Pacific Fisheries Standoff

  1. Something to remember when somebody uses the term “international law” and tries to sound serious.

    Either UNCLOS stands or it doesn’t. Either you police you waters or you don’t. The deep sea is a harsh frontier environment and harsh frontiers need robust policing. Flags have to be respected, but if you are within somebody else’s jurisdiction you will lose right. Flags of convenience are getting to be a bit of joke aren’t they.

    That these are Spanish owned vessels is not much of a shock.

  2. Pingback: World’s Largest Marine Protected Area Established in the Ross Sea (Antarctica) | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

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