Reputed IUU fishing vessel crew fined, jailed

Environmental activist group Sea Shepherd is claiming a “massive victory” after three members of the crew of the reputed illegal toothfish fishing vessel Thunder were fined and jailed on charges related to illegal fishing.

A court in São Tomé and Principe, an island nation in the Gulf of Guinea off the western African coast, convicted the men, Captain Luis Alfonso Rubio Cataldo of Chile, Chief Engineer Agustin Dosil Rey of Spain and Second Mechanic Luis Miguel Perez Fernandez, also of Spain, on charges of forgery, pollution and recklessness. All three received sentences from 32 to 36 months in jail, and fined a total of EUR 15 million (USD 17.2 million).

“The guilty verdict and significant sentences are a victory in the battle against Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing, and indicate the seriousness with which these crimes are now being regarded in the region,” Sea Shepherd wrote in a statement.

The Thunder has had a purple notice from Interpol since 12 May 2013, indicating “Illegal Fishing by Fishing Vessel Thunder,” and listing the vessel as operating out of New Zealand.

Sea Shepherd has alleged the Thunder had been engaged in illegal toothfish fishing in Antarctic waters. The Thunder sank off the coast of São Tomé and Principe on 6 April, after a pursuit by Sea Shepherd vessels.


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