Zanzibar Maritime Authority has taken action to prevent the notorious ATLANTIC WIND from resuming fishing operations, by removing the vessel from the Tanzanian register of vessels.

Whilst operating as the YONGDING the ATLANTIC WIND was arrested in Cape Verde in 2015. The vessel had been the subject of an INTERPOL Purple Notice, and listed as an IUU vessel by a number of international organisations for illegally targeting toothfish in the Antarctic. These two vessels are part of a wider group suspected to have been operating in partnership for many years, nicknamed the ‘Bandit 6’ the group also included the KUNLUN, THUNDER, VIKING, SHONGHUA and PERLON, all of which were linked to Vidal Armadores in Spain.

Per Erik Bergh, Stop Illegal Fishing commented, “With a history of multiple name changes and of hopping between flag States the ATLANTIC WIND shows all the hallmarks of a vessel trying to operate outside of the regulatory system. The ATLANTIC WIND has been known by 15 names since it was constructed, with 11 of these being used in the last 10 years, and has been flagged to at least 12 different registers.”

Zahor el Kharousy, Department of Fisheries, Zanzibar, Tanzania stated that, “As part of the eight-strong FISH-i Africa Task Force, which unites the coastal and island States of the Western Indian Ocean, Tanzania operates a process of due diligence to ensure that vessels licensed to fish in their waters or flying the Tanzanian flag are not hiding a history of illegal fishing. We work closely with other relevant agencies to prevent operators from taking advantage of our registry and are very glad to see the ATLANTIC WIND removed from our flag.”

The Authority in Zanzibar stated, “We want to make sure that any vessel associated with Tanzania is complying with national and international regulations and laws. The ATLANTIC WIND is a clear case of a vessel, and a vessel operator, that has chosen not to comply. We hope that other flag States will take a cautionary approach when considering flagging vessels of this type. Illegal fishing and criminal activity in the fisheries sector will not stop until we stand up against these vessels.”

The SONGHUA, also currently in Cape Verde, has also been repainted and renamed as PESCACISNE 2. There are concerns that the Chilean flagged vessel may look to resume fishing operations.

“It is very hard to see how fish products from these boats can ever have any acceptable provenance.” Commented Alistair McDonnell of INTERPOL. “Vessels like these have such a long and laboured record of falsification of declarations to all regulatory authorities, telling different lies to each and then telling another set of lies to the next State when the goods are landed, in transit, or imported for processing or consumption.” McDonnell recommends that “States take a risk based multi-agency approach and verify the registry claims relating to customs, port, health and fisheries related documentation.”