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Rogue Ship A Good Catch


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The detention of an infamous rogue fishing vessel off Phuket deserves special notice and praise. Authorities apprehended the ugly-looking ship after it was chased by various nations for years. It has gone by an assortment of names and sailed under numerous flags, but always with criminal intent. The 625-tonne vessel was known and blacklisted worldwide for illegal fishing in and around the Antarctic.


The maritime police chased and caught the ship on March 6. It is currently called Kunlun but is also known as Dorita, Black Moon and Galaxy. Its flags have included North Korea, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Panama, Indonesia and Equatorial Guinea. Police have detained the Kunlun and its crew - 31 Indonesians, four Spanish officers and a Peruvian captain. A Spanish officer who apparently attempted to commit suicide is being treated at a Phuket hospital. The ship's owner is officially unknown.


There is quite a lot of bad news in the accomplishment of this feat by police. The capture of the Kunlun poses yet more problems for Thailand in its continuing, even escalating diplomatic battles. It turns out the Kunlun specialised in fishing for Patagonian toothfish, a highly regulated species near endangerment. Most Thais and visitors may know little about the toothfish, but millions are familiar with its other name - the snow fish, in Thai pla hima.


Seafood and Chinese restaurants, including at top-rated hotels, feature snow fish on their menus of "luxury dishes". It is popular for obvious reasons. For anyone who enjoys eating fish, it is by any name a succulent main-course ingredient at any dinner or banquet. Steamed, poached or pan-fried, the fish is extremely popular at any price.

It is impossible to think of a more damaging conflict of interests than the capture of the criminal Kunlun ship, and the widespread availability of a supposedly regulated species. The government remains to be heard from on the matter. But if there are any enforced regulations about importing, buying or selling Patagonian toothfish, aka snow fish, no market or restaurant operator seems to be aware of them.


Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, who is responsible for enforcing fishing regulations, said last week he did not know why Thailand faces criticism and possible sanctions from the European Union. He told media the military is trying to improve fishing standards. All but about 3% of fishing boats are registered and licensed. And now, from a completely unexpected direction comes a rogue ship with tonnes of illegal fish in its hold.


When detained by marine police - not the navy - the Kunlun had 182 tonnes of fish in its refrigerated holds. The manifest and the ship's captain told police boarders they were grouper. A quick inspection revealed most, if not all, the fish are snow fish. The ship was supposedly on its way to sell the illegal cargo in Vietnam.


Catching the fugitive ship and crew is a praiseworthy achievement. On the other hand, it now serves as stark reminder of just why the EU has turned on Thailand and threatened sanctions. The country has plenty of laws and regulations to deal with illegal fishing and trafficking in regulated seafood. As with human trafficking, however, those who are concerned want to see action against violators, rather than hear about new laws and paperwork.


The capture of the Kunlun should lead to a crackdown on both sellers and buyers of protected seafood. If crew and cargo of this serial poacher are to be punished, so must others who profit from such illegal fishing.



What this article, in it's effusive praise of the Thai authorities fails to mention, is that the NZ Navy shadowed the vessel in question in Antarctic waters, photographing the capture of tooth fish.


The NZ Navy received criticism for not sinking the illegal fishing vessel, but apparently you can't just sink vessels in International waters, according to maritime and other law.


The NZ Navy then alerted Interpol and a combined international effort tracked the vessel to Thailand where the Thai authorities were handed on a plate, the true identity of the vessel, the nature of it's illegal fishing and it's the aliases. On a plate.


This vessel has been linked to known Spanish Criminal entities whose representatives promptly arrived in Phuket, to presumably grease some palms, for the ships release. This may still occur.

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Bad news , snow fish as listed on the Thai hotel menue is a very white fish similar to the Scandinavian winter salmon Skrei and therefore has often been consumed by boardmember BuBi . Nobody could ever answer my question what a snowfish is . I did not realise it is an endangered species and promise to start an immediate riot once I arrive at my beloved riverlodge again .


Although I would not rate it in the luxury range pricewise .

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" The ship's owner is officially unknown. "


What about unoffically ?


Ohhh Just noticed, the legal team is already on the case ....... An inconvenient and costly disruption to service, which will be resumed as soon as possible, once they get their ship back.


I expect unofficially the ships owner is not too happy...

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"Patagonian toothfish", aka snow fish...is also known in the US as Chilean Sea bass and is still available in the states.


I have had it in the past and I must say it is delicious. Too bad, it is overfished. I am not sure if the trendy restaurants in

the states are still serving it.


Also here in the states, California and NY have outlawed "shark fins soup".

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" Also here in the states, California and NY have outlawed "shark fins soup ".


Looks like a restaurant in Texas, will now be your only option, should you want ....

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The Burmese slaves sat on the floor and stared through the rusty bars of their locked cage, hidden on a tiny tropical island thousands of miles from home.


Just a few yards away, other workers loaded cargo ships with slave-caught seafood that clouds the supply networks of major supermarkets, restaurants and even pet stores in the United States.


But the eight imprisoned men were considered flight risks - labourers who might dare run away. They lived on a few bites of rice and curry a day in a space barely big enough to lie down, stuck until the next trawler forces them back to sea.


"All I did was tell my captain I couldn't take it anymore, that I wanted to go home," said Kyaw Naing, his dark eyes pleading into an Associated Press video camera sneaked in by a sympathetic worker. "The next time we docked," he said nervously out of earshot of a nearby guard, "I was locked up."


Here, in the Indonesian island village of Benjina and the surrounding waters, hundreds of trapped men represent one of the most desperate links criss-crossing between companies and countries in the seafood industry. This intricate web of connections separates the fish we eat from the men who catch it, and obscures a brutal truth: Your seafood may come from slaves.


The men the AP interviewed on Benjina were mostly from Myanmar, also known as Burma, one of the poorest countries in the world. They were brought to Indonesia through Thailand and forced to fish. Their catch was then shipped back to Thailand, where it entered the global stream of commerce.


There is a lengthy article at the source, with pics, well worth the read, Thailand seems to be the 'Hub' of illegal fish distribution.. big surprise!



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The broker said agents then sell the slaves, usually to Thai captains of fishing boats or the companies that own them. Each slave typically costs around $1,000, according to Patima Tungpuchayakul, manager of the Thai-based nonprofit Labor Rights Promotion Network Foundation. The men are later told they have to work off the "debt" with wages that don't come for months or years, or at all.


"The employers are probably more worried about the fish than the workers' lives," she said. "They get a lot of money from this type of business."


Illegal Thai boats are falsely registered to fish in Indonesia through graft, sometimes with the help of government authorities. Praporn Ekouru, a Thai former member of Parliament, admitted to the AP that he had bribed Indonesian officials to go into their waters, and complained that the Indonesian government's crackdown is hurting business.


"In the past, we sent Thai boats to fish in Indonesian waters by changing their flags," said Praporn, who is also chairman of the Songkhla Fisheries Association in southern Thailand. "We had to pay bribes of millions of baht per year, or about 200,000 baht ($6,100) per month. ... The officials are not receiving money anymore because this order came from the government."

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