Greenpeace: Antarctic Transhipment Vessels Failing Inspections

Credit: Greenpeace International
Credit: Greenpeace International

Published Mar 4, 2020 5:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

Fishing cargo vessels operating in Antarctic waters are failing a majority of their safety inspections, a Greenpeace International report claims. 

The 26 refrigerated cargo vessels recorded transferring catch from fishing boats in the Antarctic in the period 2017-2019 had at least one environmental or safety deficiency in around 70 percent of cases – 119 out of 168 – in the same period, states the report Fishy Business

11 of the vessels recorded MARPOL deficiencies. Safety of navigation and fire safety deficiencies were recurring problems, and 14 vessels recorded deficiencies associated with living and labor conditions.

In one case, the MV Uruguay Reefer reportedly carrying heavy fuel oil in Antarctic waters, struck an iceberg before later sinking in the South Atlantic. The owner disputes that the vessel was carrying heavy fuel oil at the time, and the case is subject to ongoing legal proceedings.

The Greenpeace International report also highlights how transhipment facilitates illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. A detailed analysis of more than 1,600 refrigerated cargo vessels found that seven major fishing powers and 250 vessels dominate transhipment on the high seas. 

Will McCallum of Greenpeace’s Protect the Oceans campaign said: “Transhipment is the lifeblood of the distant water fishing industry and facilitates some of the worst environmental and human rights abuses at sea. These abuses happen out of sight and out of mind and so are at greater risk of being ignored. If we’re going to protect the oceans, it’s critical that governments agree an ambitious Global Ocean Treaty this year to create areas off-limits to harmful human activity and to close the loopholes in global ocean governance that lead to over-fishing and unsustainable practices at sea.”

Last Friday Greenpeace activists boarded the refrigerated cargo vessel Taganrogsky Zaliv, linked to Laskaridis Shipping Ltd. The activists claim the vessel was carrying catch from an unregulated fishery, squid caught in the South Atlantic Ocean. In the days prior to boarding, the activists requested the vessel leave Antarctic waters several times and attempted to deliver a fender painted with the message “Ocean Destroyer.” The fender was found washed up on Elephant Island, an important Antarctic penguin colony. 

Greenpeace says the Lavinia Group and Greek shipping magnate Thanasis Laskaridis were provided an opportunity to comment on the report and denied the accuracy of the information from Lloyd's List Intelligence regarding safety inspections from 2017-2019, suggesting that some of the ships identified by Lloyd's List as being owned by them are not owned by them and that some vessels named refer to multiple vessels, without specifying which information they dispute. They noted that the practice of transhipment itself is legal and stated that they take measures beyond the industry norm to ensure that they are not involved with any form of illegal cargo.

The report is available here.