18 Mar 2015

Wanted vessel held in Thailand

3:46 pm on 18 March 2015

One of the three vessels caught by the New Zealand navy illegally fishing in the Southern Ocean has been detained in Thailand.

The New Zealand Defence Force says this photo shows fisherman hauling toothfish onboard the fishing vessel, Kunlun.

The New Zealand Defence Force says this photo shows fisherman hauling toothfish onboard the fishing vessel, Kunlun. Photo: NZDF

The Kunlun, which was wanted by Interpol, was intercepted by the navy in January but refused permission for the navy to board.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said New Zealand officials have been closely involved since the boat arrived in Thailand.

"Their departments of state have to make their own decisions. We can make sure they have all of the information that they'll find helpful to make their decisions," he said.

"We have been very actively engaged through a number of New Zealand agencies, led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for many days now."

In January, Equatorial Guinea gave permission for New Zealand to board three fishing ships - the Kunlun, the Songhua and the Yongding - to verify their flagged status, after agreeing they were illegally fishing for toothfish in Antarctic waters.

Crew on navy ship HMNZS Wellington were refused entry to the vessels by the captains and did not forcefully enter because it was deemed to be too dangerous.

Mr McCully later said the three ships were not flagged to Equatorial Guinea as they had claimed.

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