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INTERPOL and Illegal Fishing

January 22, 2014

At the request of South Africa INTERPOL has issued Purple Notices for two vessels suspected of illegal fishing.

Today the third country in less than six months requested that INTERPOL put out a “Purple Notice” on suspected illegal fishing vessels, which encourages the international community to compile and share information about illegal fishing vessels. That country today was South Africa, which follows on the heels of Costa Rica and Norway. This constitutes a new and exciting trend that puts INTERPOL in an leadership role in coordinating action on illegal fishing vessels operating in Africa.

Here are the choice bits from INTERPOL’s press release:

The South African DAFF believes the two stateless vessels fled the port of Cape Town on 29 December to avoid further investigation. The authorities requested the INTERPOL Purple Notices to warn other countries of the potential threat posed to the safety and security of the persons on board, in addition to a pollution risk to the marine and coastal environment. The vessels are likely to have changed their flags, names and other identifiers.

“Through INTERPOL we ask the global law enforcement community to assist our investigation into the disturbing activities associated with these vessels, and to help put an end to lawlessness and duplicity at sea,” said Mr Mtoba, Chief Director, Monitoring, Control and Surveillance of DAFF and the leader of the capacity building and advocacy project of INTERPOL’s Fisheries Crime Working Group.

“The activities of these vessels are not only a threat to marine living resources, but also to the safety and wellbeing of the fishing crews on board,” added Mr Mtoba.

INTERPOL’s Purple Notices are used to seek or provide information on modi operandi, objects, devices and concealment methods used by criminals.

“South Africa’s request shows the commitment of our member countries to use INTERPOL’s global tools and services effectively in their efforts to suppress fisheries crime,” said David Higgins, head of INTERPOL’s Environmental Security unit.

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