Orion spots blacklisted boat in Southern Ocean

  • Murray McCully
Foreign Affairs

New Zealand is urging Spain to take action against Spanish-based owners of a blacklisted fishing boat spotted by an Air Force Orion on a Southern Ocean patrol, Foreign Minister Murray McCully said today.

Mr McCully said the patrol had encountered the Bigaro on Tuesday inside the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources' (CCAMLR) management area.

The Togo-flagged Bigaro is one of a number of vessels CCAMLR blacklisted for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

"Spain is a CCAMLR member and is obliged to take action against the Spanish company and any individuals involved with the Bigaro who are on the CCAMLR blacklist.  We will also report this to CCAMLR.

"Illegal toothfish fishing in the Southern Ocean is a scourge; destroying fish stocks and killing thousands of seabirds including albatrosses.   Governments cannot turn a blind eye to this.

"Last month CCAMLR blacklisted another Spanish boat as a result of our efforts, and following diplomatic representation from New Zealand, Sierra Leone removed its flag from a Spanish-owned boat caught by a patrol in January."

Mr McCully said New Zealand supported CCAMLR, which is part of the Antarctic Treaty System, by carrying out regular surveillance of the Ross Sea and Southern Ocean under a multi-agency operation called Operation Mawsoni.

New Zealand is the current Chair of CCAMLR.