Fishing cargo vessels operating in Antarctic waters are failing a majority of their safety inspections, Greenpeace International announced after analyzing PSC inspection records. The 26 reefers recorded transferring catch from fishing boats in the Antarctic in the period 2017-2019 failed 70% – 119 out of 168 – of their environmental and workers’ safety inspections in the same period, the organization said.
The Greenpeace International report ‘Fishy Business’ maps out the world of ‘transshipment’ and highlights how it enables illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
A detailed analysis of more than 1,600 reefers found that just seven major fishing powers and 250 vessels dominate transshipment on the high seas.
The shocking environmental safety record of transshipment vessels in the Antarctic is a ticking time bomb. If it’s left unchecked it could cause untold harm to this fragile ecosystem. These vessels are operating in an almost pristine environment so it’s vital they operate with the highest environmental safety standards, but this is clearly not the case. The Antarctic Ocean Commission must stop vessels with such poor records from entering this wilderness and create a register of permitted reefers, which are required to have onboard observers,
…noted Will McCallum of Greenpeace’s Protect the Oceans campaign.
Transshipment involves transferring catches from fishing boats to refrigerated cargo ships.
Reefers also resupply fishing boats, allowing distant water fleets to stay active at sea for months without returning to port.
This facilitates overfishing and has been linked to serious abuses of human and workers’ rights at sea.
In addition, it enables fishing vessels to land illegal catches into the global market.
- Using data from Global Fishing Watch and research from a wide range of maritime sources, Greenpeace has developed a record of 416 ‘risky’ reefer vessels operating on the high seas. The way these vessels operate poses a threat to the marine environment by facilitating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and undermine the human rights of their workers.
- This global fleet hides behind complex ownership structures and ‘flags of convenience’ (FOCs) that reduce accountability and transparency. In a historic first, this report uncovers this murky system at scale.
- Every fishery where these vessels are allowed to operate is in effect supporting an increased risk of IUU fishing and human rights abuses.
- Even in the Antarctic, which purports to have some of the best fisheries management in the world, vessels with reported health and safety infringements operate regularly and evidence suggests they have possible IUU fish onboard.
- One vessel investigated by Greenpeace struck an ice floe inside Antarctic waters whilst carrying a significant quantity of fuel that could have polluted the pristine environment.
- Greenpeace urges immediate action by the relevant authorities in the Antarctic and across the world to prevent the continued environmental and human rights risks posed by this fleet.
- Greenpeace highlights the continued governance gaps that allow malpractice in international waters to continue and calls for a strong Global Ocean Treaty that would provide a more holistic approach to ocean governance.
We are here to deliver a strong message to this industry: the pristine waters of the Antarctic are not their playground. This special place is one of Earth’s last remaining wildernesses, and transhipping by vessels complicit in unregulated fishing is not welcome here,
Explore more herebelow: