A Notorious Pirate fishing vessel
has been found near Australia's sub-Antarctic marine territory, one of six longlining for the "white gold" Patagonian toothfish in defiance of international rules for the region. The rust-streaked Ross
is best known as the boat that was pelted with eggs by frustrated Australian legal fishermen
when it was in the Heard Island zone 18 months ago
. Then named the Alos
, the vessel has fished
in the Southern Ocean under several names
, companies and flag states for at least five years. The Ross
is publicly blacklisted
by the regional fisheries organisation
, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources - but an Armed Australian Patrol Ship
was powerless to stop it recently inside the commission area. The ship was under the flag of the African country of Togo, which is not a commission member. This means the vessel is not subjected to the organisation's rules setting quotas for toothfish in the region. "They are fishing with impunity and there is nothing anyone can do about it," said federal Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald. "That's the bit that absolutely angers and frustrates me. We need to change international law so that flag states that don't control their vessels should be put out of the market." Senator Macdonald next week will seek to strengthen the laws at a six-nation meeting in Paris. This will be followed in Rome by a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation meeting on global illegal fishing. The Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators, which backs the Paris meeting, said although sub-Antarctic territorial waters were now much more secure, the high seas problem was glaring. "We are backing measures which would effectively create an international licensing regime," said coalition spokesman Martin Exel. The crew of Australian patrol ship Oceanic Viking
, chartered under a $90 million fisheries protection program and armed with a heavy machine-gun, saw four of the six longliners fishing just south of Heard Island. "ALOS"
Now Called: Ross
ex- Lena / ex - Cap George
ex - Conbaroya Tercero
Colour: White & Grey
Year built: 1975
Brief History: Believed to be renamed the Ross and flagged to Togo. Photographed fishing illegally in the French EEZ in December 2002, and in the Australian EEZ in January and September 2003.
Alos was built in 1975, registered from 1984 to 1998 as the Combaroya Tercero (III) and owned by Paresis Trawling Ltd in Namibia, a subsidiary of Grupo Oya. In 1998 the vessel was sold to Cormorant Ltd, reflagged to St Vincent & Grenadines and renamed Cap George charter to a licensed French operator.
In March 2000, the vessel was chartered to Cap Bourbon for fishing in Kerguelen waters as a joint venture between Oya’s parent company, Oyalves SL, and Cap Bourbon.
In June 2001 the vessel was sold to Juan Manuel Oya Perez of Lena Enterprises Ltd (member of Grupo Oya). The vessel was renamed Lena and registered in Seychelles.
In December 2002, Lena was photographed in the French EEZ and again in January 2003, at the same time as the Lince was arrested by French authorities in the same area. In March 2003, Lena was seen in Durban, South Africa resupplying
In May 2003, the vessel was sold again to Alos Co. (GH) Ltd, owned by Spaniards Jose Fraga Sanchez and Jose Quelle Pena, and a Ghanaian resident, Steven Abrokwa. (These same two Spaniards were involved with the first boat named ‘Lena’ that was apprehended by Australian authorities in early 2002). Alos Co. Ltd renamed the vessel Alos and flagged her to Ghana close to the time that Seychelles deregistered the Lince, Rubin, Viking and Praslin.
The vessel was identified fishing in waters around Kerguelen in May and July 2003 and believed to be transshipping toothfish at sea. She was seen in Mauritius in July/August 2003.
Alos was last seen by an Australian fishing vessel in September 2003, and was chased and photographed within the Australian EEZ of Heard Island. The vessel is believed to have been renamed the Ross and flagged to Togo.~*~ Australian patrol ship: Oceanic Viking