Major seafood players alleged to be connected to IUU fishing in Planet Tracker report
The nonprofit Planet Tracker has publicly named several large seafood companies it alleges are involved with illegal, unreported, or unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The report, “Do You IUU?” lists Seoul, South Korea-based Dongwon Industries Co., and Shenzen, China-headquartered Rongcheng Xinlong Aquatic Products Co. and CNFC Overseas Fisheries Company as having ties to IUU fishing, with vessels listed on the Combined IUU Fishing Vessel List – a consolidation of global IUU vessel lists established by the world’s regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs).
All, along with Fuzhou, China-based Pingtan Marine Enterprise, are listed publicly, with Pingtan’s shares trading on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, Dongwon trading on the Korea Stock Exchange, and Rongcheng Xinlong Aquatic and CNFC trading on the Shenzen Stock Exchange. Planet Tracker, which focuses on the intertwining of environmental and economic issues, said investors in the companies are being exposed to significant financial risk as those stock exchanges – and most others – lack any sort of oversight or regulation of IUU fishing.
In response, Planet Tracker has called on investors “to appreciate the limit to which stock exchanges can protect them and, as such, practice due diligence in their investment decisions, while being aware that IUU fishing is often associated with other crimes, such as money laundering and human trafficking, which can have serious legal and financial repercussions.”
Planet Tracker pointed to the example of Pingtan Marine, which was first publicly accused of being associated with IUU fishing in 2017. Since then, its stock has lagged the S&P 500 by 93 percent, an indication that investors have shied away, according to Planet Tracker.
“There is a general expectation that listed companies are unable to undertake illegal activities while listed on a recognized stock exchange. This is false,” the report states. “Listed companies may knowingly or unknowingly be involved in illegal activities.” Planet Tracker has designed an online due diligence tool kit for investors to check firms against.
Planet Tracker said Pingtan has been linked to illegal fishing of hammerhead and silky sharks in Ecuadorian waters via transshipment, and in December 2020, the U.S. State Department issued a notice it had revoked more than 15 visas for “those complicit in IUU fishing who also have links to human trafficking, including associates of Pingtan Marine Enterprise.” These factors were among several that were used by the nonprofit to give the company a risk score of 72 percent in its recently created IUU Detection Toolkit for Investors in Listed Entities.
“This does not constitute any accusation, judgement of value, recommendation of the company, or view on its share price, but simply an illustration of how our toolkit could be used on a concrete example,” Planet Tracker said.
Photo courtesy of Pingtan Marine Enterprise