19 Oct 2006

Fiji checking suspected fish piracy vessel

5:22 pm on 19 October 2006

Fiji's fisheries department is checking the paperwork of a suspected pirate vessel which has docked in Suva Harbour.

Greenpeace alerted the authorities that they had seen the Wen Teng 688 dock in the harbour.

The Wen Teng 688 is a pirate ship from Taiwan which was blacklisted last year for carrying out illegal fishing in the Eastern Pacific Ocean .

A Greenpeace intern claims to have seen crew on the ship scrub out its name and write a new one on the ships hull.

When Fisheries officers went to investigate they were told the ship was registered in Indonesia and were presented with copies of paperwork.

Fiji's principal fisheries officer says about one in fifty boats have forged paperwork and they are now verifying the ship's papers with Indonesian officials.

Meanwhile the Australia Pacific Oceans Team Leader for Greenpeace, Nilesh Goundar, says piracy is rife in the Pacific because of the shortage of resources to police the waters.

"We are underdeveloped, we have competing development priorities. Governments, and rightfully so, will put money into health and education, and fisheries is one area where there isn't much resources. Countries, they may have one or two patrol boats, only few enforcement officers and largely we are under-resourced and we don't have the infrastructure."

Nilesh Goundar