19 Oct 2006

Greenpeace calls on Fiji authorities to investigate pirate vessel

2:32 pm on 19 October 2006

Greenpeace is calling on the Fiji authorities to investigate a pirate fishing ship docked in Suva harbour.

The Wen Teng 688 was blacklisted by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission last year after carrying out pirate activities in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

A Greenpeace intern claims he saw crew members of the ship scrape the side of the vessel before painting another name on it.

The Australia Pacific Oceans Team Leader for Greenpeace, Nilesh Goundar, says they have notified the Fiji fisheries department, Customs, the Ports Authority and the Fiji Navy.

Mr Goundar says it's crucial that Pacific countries collaborate to eradicate pirate fishing.

But, he says, the countries of origin must be held responsible for the actions of its pirate vessels.

"They must exercise some responsibility, they must carry out some thorough checks. Where are the vessels fishing, what is the actual number of fish they are catching or offloading, where is it all ending up and whether they are paying the right returns to the Pacific Island governments. We just cannot allow the Pacific to just be stolen from in this manner."

The Wen Teng 688 and it's sister ship, which has also docked at Suva Harbour, are both believed to be from Taiwan.

Fisheries officers are currently on board the vessel.