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Marshall Islands fine Chinese vessel

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A CHINESE long-line fishing boat was fined $120,000 last week and stripped of its fishing license for Marshall Islands waters for violating the country's ban on shark finning, according to Intrafish.

This is the second six-figure fine for a fishing vessel, following a Japanese vessel's arrest, in the past year, since the ban went into effect in late 2011.

The vessel was one of a fleet fishing for yellow fin tuna under the aegis of the Marshall Islands Fishing Venture, which is part of the Hong Kong-based Luen Thai Enterprises.

Luen Thai operates longline fishing ventures in Majuro and other parts of Micronesia to export yellow fin sashimi to Japan and the United States.

In addition to having shark fins and skin on board, the Chinese long line vessel was reported fishing close to one of the remote atolls in this watery nation in violation of fishing license rules which require commercial boats to fish outside a 12-mile perimeter of all islands, writes Intrafish.

"We will not re-license the vessel to fish in Marshall Islands waters," Glen Joseph, director of the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority, said of the offending vessel, which is Chinese-operated but flagged in neighboring Federated States of Micronesia, where shark finning is not currently banned.

Fins and skins from an estimated 50 sharks were discovered on board the long liner during a regional fisheries surveillance enforcement program.

"The message we want to get out to anyone operating in Marshall Islands waters is we are serious about the shark ban, and it is the law," Joseph said. "If you are licensed to fish for tuna, this is what you should catch," he said. "We don't want to find other species when we do inspections."

Marshall Islands Fishing Venture Manager Derrick Wang said the locally-based company "does not condone actions of our fishing vessels that are contrary to Marshall Islands laws and regulations. MIFV regrets the actions taken by the captain of this particular vessel".

"Appropriate actions have been taken to ensure future incidents with this vessel and other vessels under MIFV will not happen. MIFV is fully supportive of the regulations that ban shark fins and will continue to monitor our vessels to ensure full compliance."

Wang said the loss to the company from this boat being banned from fishing in the Marshall Islands is significant, while Joseph commented all vessels that come into Majuro for transshipment of fish catches are boarded and inspected.

The fisheries department and the national police Sea Patrol co-operate in these checks on fishing vessels, he said.

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