Spanish Authorities Fine Illegal Fishing Operators
On Wednesday, the Spanish government announced that six Spanish nationals and six Spanish companies involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Southern Ocean have been fined a combined total of over $6.1 million.
The fines, by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and the Environment (MAPAMA), are the result of Operation Sparrow II, a continuation of Operation Sparrow, a MAPAMA policing operation targeting Spanish IUU operators, which saw the Vidal Armadores crime syndicate fined more than $21 million.
The recent penalties dealt by the Spanish government targeted other Galician Mafia groups, including the owner and operator of the Interpol-wanted F/V Thunder, a vessel involved in illegal fishing before its captain deliberately sank the vessel in the Gulf of Guinea after a 110-day pursuit by environmental organizationSea Shepherd.
The captain, and two of his crew, after being rescued by Sea Shepherd, were sentenced to three years in prison, and fined $17.8 million, by a court in the island state of Sao Tome and Principe in 2015.
In addition to the fines handed down in Spain, the six individuals and six companies are sanctioned from partaking in any fishing activity for the next five to 14 years.
An additional $71,000 fine was given to an individual who obstructed law enforcement officers during the course of the MAPAMA investigation.
Operation Sparrow II has enabled Spanish authorities to collect incriminating evidence on the main IUU players in Spain, which can now be used by other jurisdictions internationally.
“More than two years after my crew and I dogged the F/V Thunder for 110 days, chasing it across 10,000 nautical miles, covering three oceans, before finally ending its career, Spanish authorities have continued to chase those who profited most from its 10-year crime spree,” said Captain Peter Hammarstedt, who heads Sea Shepherd’s campaigns against IUU fishing in Africa.