Oceana: IUU fishing is an environmental crime and needs to be prosecuted as such
On Monday, the Spanish Civil Guard raided the offices of the company Vidal Armadores according to local press. Based on the same source, agents of Interpol and Europol may have participated in the operation which concluded with four arrests, including Antonio Vidal Suarez and his son globally known for their links with illegal fishing offences in Antarctic waters for the prized Patagonian toothfish.
Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe welcomes the results of this unprecedented and historical raid: “This is the first time ever Spanish Guardia Civil, Interpol and Europol have joined forces on illegal fishing in a joint action against poachers. This case demonstrates the severity of Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing as an environmental crime and should always be prosecuted accordingly”.
In December 2015, the Spanish Ministry of Fisheries confirmed administrative sanctions of over 17 million euros to several companies following an initial raid conducted in Galicia which revealed economic connections to the illegal fishing vessels Kunlun Yongding, Songhua and Tiantai. These vessels have been repeatedly identified as poaching Patagonian toothfish in Antarctic waters with gillnets flying the flags of different countries.
“The Vidal Armadores arrests are a significant step forward to eradicating IUU fishing from our oceans – a goal Oceana has been working hard to achieve,” adds Gustavsson.