Death, Drugs, Illegal Fishing and Twin Boats in the Port of Montevideo

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With official data and its own investigations, the Oceans Organization reported that in 53 months they have received 53 dead crew members from the foreign fleet, that transshipments on the high seas favour illegal fishing and the violation of human rights. They detected twin ships and lack of controls in cases of drug trafficking. It is the second most illegal port in the world.

The documents that have just come to light took two to three years of research and meetings with actors from all public and private sectors. The author is Milko Schvartzman, Ocean Oceans project coordinator for Ocean 5, an alliance of scientists, NGOs and philanthropists, including the actor Leonardo Di Caprio.

The data collected is conclusive: the Port of Montevideo is listed as the second worldwide to receive transshipment fishing suspected of coming from Illegal Fishing Declared Not Regulated (IUU). The incidents with victims on board, the cases of drug trafficking, the fires and the group fights on foreign ships are constant. Official data show that one death is received per month in the Port of Montevideo and the irregularities revealed are really surprising. The most curious thing is that since 2013, Uruguay is part of the FAO-UN Provisional Port States, which undertook to discourage and prevent IUU fishing.

They land one dead per month

Because there are no controls on the conditions of life on board or documentation of foreign fishing vessels operating in the port of Montevideo, trafficking, slavery and violation of human rights are a constant.

According to official data from the National Administration of Ports and the National Navy of Uruguay, since 2013 the discharge of a dead crew member per month from these vessels has been recorded, 53 dead in 52 months.

In addition to the number of deaths that the Eastern port receives, which in itself is chilling, have also denounced from the Oceans project several cases in which the abuse was verified on the crews in other ports, while in Montevideo they went unnoticed.

In May 2018, the fishing vessel Fuh Sheng 11 was inspected upon arriving at the port of Cape Town, in South Africa, and it was detected that it did not meet the minimum conditions for sailing. It was documented that their crew members were beaten, suffered abuse and were not paid as agreed. The previous scale had been the Port of Montevideo. In December 2017, he visited that port twice and, strikingly, no inconvenience was registered.

In September 2017, a diplomatic delegation from Indonesia visited Uruguay to investigate the case of a crew member from his country who worked on board a Taiwanese fishing boat and was killed in Montevideo. The ship’s captain Yun Mao 168 had refused to ask for help and evacuate the crew member; a simple toothache, after ten days resulted in his death.

There are no doubts for Oceans: the collection of services and fees for vessels that practice IUU fishing slavery implies complicity, since, knowingly, the country obtains economic benefits from those who commit illicit and crimes on the high seas and while they remain in the Port of Montevideo.

Transshipments on the high seas

According to the FAO, to combat illegal fishing, forced labour and human trafficking, it is necessary to prohibit transshipment. Uruguay bases the development of its ports on the transshipments, and who confirmed it was the Director of the National Administration of Ports.

From the Oceans Project, they point out that fishing vessels involved in illicit activities, to avoid controls and stay longer on the high seas, use the method of unloading, replenishment and change of crew by mooring to another ship with cargo capacity and refrigerated warehouse, the so-called reefers. Most of them are registered under a flag of convenience, that is, they use the pavilion of a third state that lacks legal regulations on offences on the high seas.

Dead, Drugs, Illegal Fishing and Twin Boats in the Port of Montevideo

Transshipment at sea is common in vessels involved in illegal fishing, drug trafficking and human trafficking. In addition to allowing ships to remain for months – or even more than a year – without returning to port, it makes it impossible to verify the origin of the catch, its environmental impacts, health, labour or safety controls for navigation. In 2015, 1,500 downloads were made in Montevideo and more than half correspond to ships that were transshipped on the high seas.

Drug trafficking

The cases of drug trafficking in the port of Montevideo already have a long list and some have a direct relationship with operators of foreign fishing vessels that make transshipments or load the containers inside the terminal, denounce from the NGO.

In 2008, an organization dedicated to drug trafficking that transported cocaine to Spain on board fishing was detected, which was led by a businessman from the sector. The Galician businessman is called Manuel Barros, he is an ex-delegate of the Xunta de Galicia in Uruguay, who participated in prevention work against illegal fishing and is currently a member of the Chamber of Foreign Fishing Agents in Uruguay.

In 2013, when Uruguay was already the FAO’s Governing Port, the Navy seized 1,440 kilos of cocaine in a Panamanian fishing vessel with links to Galicia.

In September 2018, a shipment of more than 400 kilos of cocaine that had been placed in a wool container while it was inside the port was detected. Although there was an international red alert for suspicions of drug trafficking in that shipment, the Customs personnel did not inspect and today is suspected. The main implicate in the shipment is a Uruguayan fishing entrepreneur, suspected of drug trafficking since 2006, who moved freely in the Port of Montevideo.

Twin ships and suspicions of illegal activities

The detection of numerous vessels that manipulate their identity transmitted by the AIS (Automatic Identification System) during their stay in the Port of Montevideo and their fishing operations, arouses suspicion of concealment of illicit activities.

Among the statistics on intentional manipulation by fishermen, 44% of Chinese vessels manipulate the position of the GPS that transmits and 19% turn it off to conceal illicit activities.

Along with other organizations such as Global Fishing Watch, the Oceans Project conducted an analysis by checking port traffic for 30 days, a total of 8.2% of a year, with an intermittent and random frequency. They estimate that the detected irregularities occur, at least, 10 times more than the verified fraction that has the precise data of 10 vessels.

Only during June 2018 did they find different boats moored or anchored in the port simultaneously and identified with the same name; in other cases with the same registration. Also, boats moored in port with the same name as another vessel located in another region of the planet; boats that quickly change their identification name in the AIS during their stay in the port and boats without any registration, name or nationality information.

Numerous vessels were detected that only activate their AIS during their stay in port, while they deactivate it during their operations, behaviour also associated with the concealment of illicit activities and for that reason, those vessels that deactivate it, must not be accepted to operate in port. , since it is not possible to verify that your cargo is not prevented from illegal fishing.

Blacklist fishing boats that operate in Montevideo

Dozens of ships that have been sanctioned, denounced, captured or registered in blacklists of international organizations for IUU fishing or violation of human rights have operated or are still operating from the Port of Montevideo.

A satellite study conducted in 2017 by the organizations Global Fishing Watch, Oceana and Skytruth, revealed that Montevideo is the second most visited port in the world by fishing transshipment vessels suspected of being an IUU.

In 2011 the crew (32 Indonesian sailors) of the Oyang 75 ship fled for sexual harassment and mistreatment on board near the coasts of New Zealand and the Business University of Auckland drafted a report on the matter. The lawyers reported that the crew was beaten by their officers, sexually abused, lived among rats and cockroaches and were forced to eat food in poor condition. In 2014 this ship and others of the same firm also denounced, arrived at the port of Montevideo from where they operate to the present.

In this case and only as an example, the report adds those of Lu Rong Yuan Yu, who in the last 18 months in the port of Montevideo fell two dead crew members, two seriously injured and another with health problems. They are also internationally famous for disconnecting the satellite reconnaissance system, a maneuver that is banned all over the world; and operate with twin ships. The Insung 7 (East Ocean) fished illegally in Antarctica and in Argentina in 2014 when it operated from Montevideo.

The Pesmar Beach One captured in Argentina in February of this year for illegal fishing in our Exclusive Economic Zone, arrived in April in the port of Montevideo and alerted the authorities (DINARA, ANP and Armada) was inspected. Among the irregularities found forgery of the species caught, had not declared the black hake that brought in the winery and did not have permission from the Spanish government for its capture in international waters. So far it has not been confirmed that the vessel has been sanctioned.

Although in 2013 Uruguay ratified the Agreement on Port State Measures aimed at Preventing, Discouraging and Eliminating IUU Fishing of the FAO-UN, since then there has been no reduction in cases of illegal fishing or abuse of crews on the part of the boats that operate from their port. Quite the opposite: the situation in the Port of Montevideo is increasingly scandalous and the title granted by the FAO seems to be just a screen.



Source: Revista Puerto