AFMA and the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) have joined forces to improve control over illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessels and to assist countries in South-East Asia to close off their ports to IUU vessels.
In February 2015 INTERPOL invited AFMA to participate in training for investigators of fisheries crime in South-East Asia. The training was hosted by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) in Kuantan and attended by officer’s from MMEA, the Royal Malaysian Police, the Royal Malaysian Customs Department, the Malaysian Marine Department and the Department of Fisheries Malaysia.
The AFMA officer who attended the event provided training to Malaysian authorities in detecting and taking action against vessels entering South East Asian ports that undermine the conservation measures of Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) such as the Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources (CCAMLR) and the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).
The INTERPOL training builds on Port State Measures control training previously delivered by AFMA in South-East Asia. This new link with INTERPOL represents a significant increase in AFMA’s influence to combat IUU fishing in South-East Asia.
Subsequently, Malaysia has reported that their authorities have detained the CCAMLR IUU listed vessel Viking in the port of Johor where the master has appeared before the Malaysian courts and received a fine of $71 500 for fisheries offences which he was unable to pay and consequently he is serving a three month prison term. In addition Thailand also detained the CCAMLR listed IUU vessel Thaisan and seized its IUU catch of Patagonian toothfish worth an estimated $3.5 to $4.0 million AUD and investigations are ongoing.
Spanish authorities have raided the offices of Vidal Armadores in Spain (allegedly a key IUU backer in the Southern Oceans) with a view to investigating their links with CCAMLR listed IUU fishing vessels using ports in South-East Asia.