A boat snared poaching in the Southern Ocean was detained after docking in Thailand with 180 tonnes of toothfish.
The Kunlun arrived in Phuket on Monday and attempted to offload what it claimed was groper. Previously registered to Equatorial Guinea, it was falsely reflagged as an Indonesian vessel and renamed Taichan.
Bangkok-based New Zealand officials, police and customs officers arrived on the island soon after and have been working with Thai counterparts to hold the boat and its illegal haul. …
The Government worked quietly behind the scenes after the navy was slammed for failing to board two of a fleet of three vessels spotted poaching in Antarctic waters in January.
After tracking the Kunlun to Thailand, they alerted officials and passed on evidence collected by the HMNZS Wellington patrol.
Meanwhile, recent raids in Spain on Vidal Armadores-linked companies came after pressure from Wellington. Operation Sparrow – an investigation into alleged links with illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities marked the first time Spain enforced a new fisheries law. …
Thailand is not due to pass domestic fishing laws until June, which left authorities with few legal options. “Two things were useful,” a New Zealand government source said.
“Firstly, they’d declared the catch as groper, not toothfish. There is no question [it is toothfish]. It is an offence to declare your fish something different to what it is. That gave [Thailand] some capacity to hold for some time.
“Separately, the boat had gone in there identifying itself as the Tiachan, flying the Indonesian flag. Our guys were quick to establish with the Indonesians that they didn’t own it. So, it is technically stateless, giving the Thai authorities a facet to keep the vessel held. We’ve been encouraging them to confiscate the catch, so they don’t get any benefit from their misdeeds.”
Looks like NZ authorities have done well with with the Spanish and Thai Governments to catch the illegal fishers. Hopefully they never get their boat back.