The International Marine Registry of Belize (IMMARBE) stripped the Damanzaihao of its flag, after request of Sea Shepherd Legal (SSL), for failing to appropriately complete its vessel registration materials and notify Belize of its record of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

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The move makes the vessel stateless, according to marine conservation group Sea Shepherd, who has been working to get the vessel arrested and de-listed in the region. Over the last two weeks, Damanzaihao had requested twice permission to leave port.

Last week, Peru started a criminal investigation into China Fishery Group and detained the vessel in the El Ferrol bay, Chimbote. The ship is being held for 70 days for allegedly polluting the Peruvian sea and for criminal charges regarding IUU Fisheries Crimes spanning from South America to New Zealand.

Ministerio Publico Fiscalia de la Nacion noted that fines for the Damanzaihao could reach $7 million USD (€6 million) for the damage. Damanzaihao will now go through a criminal investigation, with a hearing on the detention status scheduled for Monday, June 14.

Sea Shepherd’s Captain Paul Watson said:

Sea Shepherd will work hard to ensure that other potential flag states follow suit should the Damanzaihao ever be allowed to leave Peruvian waters. If it ends up on the other side of the world, I hope it is in the form of paperclips, after it has been scrapped.