The Australian Government congratulates Spanish authorities for taking action against several Spanish nationals and companies involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Southern Ocean.
Two intensive investigations by Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment and the Spanish Civil Guard’s Environmental Protection Service have resulted in penalties being imposed in one and charges being laid in another for a range of criminal offences including IUU fishing, environmental crimes, money-laundering, fraud and operating under an organised criminal group structure.
Australian agencies including the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and the Australian Border Force continue to support Spanish authorities in these investigations. This includes working through INTERPOL and by providing information gathered during recent Australian boardings of the IUU vessels with links to Spanish nationals.
Under Operation Sparrow, an intensive investigation into numerous Spanish companies and more than 20 individuals, penalties amounting to €16.75 million were imposed as well as fishing bans from between five to 23 years and prohibitions on obtaining subsidies or government support from five to 26 years.
Operation Yuyus has resulted in six individuals being arrested. Several more are under investigation, five business offices and homes were recently searched with money and assets seized.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said this result demonstrated the importance and value of continued international cooperation in targeting IUU fishing, protecting natural resources, preventing illegal activity and combatting organised crime in our waters.
“Australia is committed to working with our regional and international partners to combat IUU fishing,” Mr Dutton said.
“Australia targeted and boarded numerous Southern Ocean IUU vessels in 2015 and we continue to cooperate closely with the Spanish authorities in targeting the owners and operators of IUU vessels.
“International collaboration between countries and INTERPOL has proven to be very effective in targeting and dismantling this sophisticated organised criminal network.”
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Senator Anne Ruston welcomed the news stating that it was great to see Spain at the forefront of efforts to combat IUU fishing.
“IUU fishing threatens the sustainability of marine resources and Spain’s strong actions have dealt a severe blow to this large criminal network,” Minister Ruston said.
“This action serves as a significant deterrent against IUU operators seeking to plunder marine resources.
“As we’ve witnessed, our global and regional partnerships have had significant results with all known active Southern Ocean IUU fishing vessels out of action, having been either detained or destroyed. While the location of one vessel is unknown it is not believed to be fishing.”
More information on how the Australian Government is combatting IUU fishing can be found at afma.gov.au.