Reflections by award-winning maritime historian Joan Druett, author of many books about the sea
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Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Illegal fishing vessels apprehended
A New Zealand navy ship has caught two boats illegally fishing in the Southern Ocean.
The offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington intercepted the vessels claiming to be flagged to Equatorial Guinea last week, Foreign Minister Murray McCully says.
The vessels, Song Hua and Kun Lun, had been put on notice and the Government has vowed to take action against their owners, he said.
Fishing in the Southern Ocean is regulated to conserve Antarctic marine life and New Zealand conducts regular patrols.
"The vessels are well-known, repeat offenders and their ownership has in the past been linked to Spanish interests."
New Zealand was seeking permission from Equatorial Guinea to board the vessels, if their flag status was verified, Mr McCully said.
"We are also working with ports to ensure these vessels cannot offload their illegal catch or profit from their criminal activity."
New Zealand had asked Interpol to issue a purple notice for each vessel which would alert 190 member countries to the vessels and their owners.
New Zealand had also contacted the Spanish government, Mr McCully said.
HMNZS Wellington had gathered evidence of the vessels' activities, including photographs and video footages of illegal fishing which would be used in any legal action taken against the owners and benefactors of the fishing.