Greenpeace prevents pirates in the Swedish port of Gothenburg
Press release, Greenpeace Sweden - Greenpeace is blocking a Swedish pirate vessel that is fishing illegally in the waters of Western Sahara. 20 Greenpeace activists are preventing the Nordic IV from leaving the port of Fiskebäck by blocking the quay and having activists in a rubber boat.
The fishing vessel Nordic IV is just one of many large industrial trawlers that is overfishing in Africa and impoverishing the fish stocks there. Greenpeace demands that the boat and its owner are detained, prosecuted and punished.
"These are real pirates who we are dealing with here" says Staffan Danielsson, spokesperson of Maritime Affairs for Greenpeace at the site in Fiskebäck. They are fishing illegally and their overfishing is destroying not only the marine environment but also the lives of local people who loose both their opportunity for jobs and food.
As the EU's fishing fleet is twice as large as it ought to be, and 88 percent of the fish stocks in the EU are overfished, the EU uses third-country agreements, for example with Morocco, to export the overcapacity of the fishing fleet. Taxpayers in the EU pays subsidies for this overfishing in African waters to continue. Nordic IV however lacks permission from the Swedish Board of Fisheries, as well as from the EU and therefore is fishing illegally. Nordic IV has been reported to the police by the Swedish Board of Fisheries and an investigation is ongoing.
"Nordic IV carries the flag of the Pasific nation Cook Islands and its ownership is hidden in the taxhaven Guernsey in the English Channel. Regardless of how the Swedish owners have cleaned up their paper trail, they leave clear tracks in the sea and help to prolong the armed conflict in Western Sahara", says Staffan Danielsson.
Greenpeace demands that the boat and its owner are detained, prosecuted and punished.
Western Sahara is occupied by Morocco and the bloody conflict has been going on since 1975. Sweden has in the UN and the EU protested against the occupation and voted against the fisheries agreement which the EU and Morocco signed in 2005. Nordic IV has signed an agreement of its own with Morocco.
"Nordic IV's overfishing in the region contributes to that the occupation of Western Sahara can continue", says Staffan Danielsson. It is, therefore, the issue of multiple crimes here, both legally and morally. On top of all exploitation of marine resources they also support an occupying power. The local population does not get any part of the profits from fishing.
The management of fish resources in the EU and globally has foundered, partly due to poaching and partly because of politicians' inability to cope with overcapacity in the fleets. In Sweden efforts are now being made to scrap half the trawlers fleet, partly with EU money. Earlier attempts have failed miserably.
Before the reform of the EU's common fisheries policy 2012 Greenpeace demands that:
• The overcapacity in fishing fleets disappear, • third-country agreements are completely re-written so that they first and foremost help building credible and independent fisheries research facilities and management in the partner countries before any fish can be brought to the EU, • that all fishing must be managed in accordance with the principle of Ecosystems, so that fish also is an essential part of the marine environment and not just a commodity, • that large maritime reserves be created so that fish stocks and marine environment can recover, • that the subsidies to the fishing industry disappear, • that poaching is stopped, • the environmental unfriendly fishing methods such as bottom trawling are prohibited.
An investigation against Nordic IV is underway in Gothenburg under the leadership of the prosecutor James von Reis.
Translated from Swedish by Western Sahara Resource Watch
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