EJF calls for rigorous investigation into the escape of IUU fishing vessel Taishan (formerly Kunlun) and for results to be made public
An investigation is underway to explain how the pirate fishing vessel Taishan was allowed to flee Phuket port unnoticed by Thai authorities.
The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), has called on the Royal Thai Government for the investigation to be thorough and transparent. EJF also called for the prosecution of anyone who is found to have aided the escape and an action plan to prevent similar escapes in the future. Thai Marine policy have confirmed that on the 8th of September a pirate fishing vessel detained by authorities off the island of Phuket since March, had absconded from custody and fled the port into international waters with her shipment of stolen fish. Following a joint investigation between Sea Shepherd, Interpol and authorities in Thailand, Australia and New Zealand earlier this year, the Taishan vessel, formerly known as Kunlun, was tracked by Sea Shepherd to Thailand where she attempted to offload approximately 200 tons of illegally caught Patagonian toothfish, falsely labelled as grouper.
The escape of the Taishan should have never been allowed to happen. It is inexcusable that a vessel, which has been seized and held in port, could depart unnoticed. It must be quickly and decisively addressed by a thorough and transparent investigation and effective action in the courts. Knowing the exact conditions that allowed this escape to take place and the identity of those responsible is crucial in helping Thailand clean up its waters and drive illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) operators out. Illegal fishing in the region is rife. It devastates fish stocks and harms legitimate operators. It is important that this incident does not undermine the structural changes and reforms that local authorities and enforcement agencies are undertaking, and that both their design and implementation continue to be driven by the dual goals of transparency and sustainability. Steve Trent, Executive Director of EJF