Albacora responds to illegal fishing claims


Chris Dove, contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain

Published on
June 16, 2010

Europe’s largest tuna fishing company is firing back at accusations by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that its vessel, Albacora Uno, engaged in illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing in U.S. waters.

Albacora S.A. on Wednesday issued a press statement to give a more balanced account of the events.

“Firstly, the ship Albacora Uno never fished in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). At no time has it caught (not even a single tuna) in prohibited waters,” said Albacora spokesperson Paula Carrera. “To date, due to the peculiarities of the U.S. administrative procedure, Albacora has not had the opportunity to present arguments as to the facts set out in what, until now, is merely a proposed penalty. In this sense, the company has a 30-day period (extendable to 60 days) to make representations. These arguments will be based on the internal investigation of events, which is now taking place.”
On 9 June, NOAA approached the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C., to inform Spain’s Secretary General of the Sea of Albacora’s EUR 6 million (USD 7.4 million) fine, claiming Albacora Uno had deployed 67 aggregating devices inside the 200-mile EEZ near the Pacific islands of Howland/Baker and Jarvis between November 2007 and October 2009. It is the largest penalty ever assessed by NOAA.

To this end, Spain’s Secretary General of the Sea is gathering information from logbooks, observers’ reports and the vessel’s positioning to cross-check information received by NOAA.

Defending its position, Albacora said it is actively collaborating with U.S. authorities and has sent a delegation of top executives to provide first-hand evidence and all the information the authorities require.

“Over the years, Albacora has shown strict respect for existing international law on fisheries regulation,” Albacora said in its statement. “Compliance with this legislation is beyond a mere legal obligation, we have a genuine commitment to this business. Albacora feels innocent of accusations but would assume responsibility that may apply due to the actions of our captains or our fishing techniques, to be certain that these were executed in the terms expressed by NOAA.”

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