Fish factory vessel maintains its Scarlet Letter status

WELLINGTON, New Zealand—A fisheries management commission refused to take Vladivostok 2000 off its illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing list, in light of an Oceana investigation. The commission also warned China for assisting the ship, which is hailed as the world’s largest fish factory vessel.

            The South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization, or SPRFMO, reviewed an Oceana investigation of Vladivostok 2000 and determined the vessel, which is also known as Damanzaihao, was still engaged in IUU fishing activities. Panama and Cook Islands also received simmer warnings.

            “Oceana investigated the Damanzaihao’s movements using Global Fishing Watch’s mapping platform, which harnesses cutting-edge technology to empower anyone to investigate global fishing activity in near real-time, for free,” the organization said in a released statement.

            Vladivostok 2000 has been on the SPRFMO IUU fishing list since Feb. 6, 2015. Oceana, based upon a review of information from its Global Fishing Watch platform, determined Vladivostok 2000, as Damanzaihao, received assistance after she left Peruvian waters on July 6, 2018. The vessel was observed entering into Panama’s exclusive economic zone one week later and remained in port for three days. Vessels on the IUU list are not permitted to receive assistance from SPRFMO member countries. Such vessels are also prohibited from entering into a port and receiving assistance from member countries or cooperating members, according to Oceana.

            Damanzaihao/Vladivostok 2000 was also observed arriving into and departing out of the Port of Dalian in China in September 2018. The vessel’s activities were reviewed by SPRFMO meeting at The Hague in January; a determination was later made to keep Damanzaihao/Vladivostok 2000 on the IUU fishing list.

            The vessel in question is currently flagged to Moldova but is accused of regularly changing its name and flag.

            “Originally designed as an oil tanker measuring 228 meters, the vessel was rebuilt to function as a one-stop-shop fish processor, with the ability to store, freeze, process and transfer fish,” Oceana explained about the vessel in a released statement. “According to a New York Times article, the vessel (named Lafayette and flying a Russian flag when the article was published in 2012) can process up to 547,000 metric tons of fish each year ‘if it operated every day.’”

IUU fishing generally occurs whenever a vessel is catching fish under a flag with exhausted quotas (or no quotas at all), do nor record or report catches, file false reports, engage in fishing during closed periods or engage in activities contrary to conservation or management measures.

            SPRFMO is made up of 15 members: Australia, Chile, China, Cook Islands, Cuba, Denmark, Ecuador, European Union, New Zealand, Peru, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States and Vanuatu.

Photo Credit: SPRFMO