NOAA TAKES POSSESSION OF ILLEGAL HIGH-SEAS DRIFT NET FISHING VESSEL IN DUTCH HARBOR
October 18, 2011
The illegal high-seas fishing vessel had undergone the prescribed rat abatement measures, and was cleared late last week to come to port.
After it was determined to be a stateless vessel, the Bangun Perkasa was seized by the Coast Guard about a month ago for high-seas drift net fishing more than 2,600 miles south west of Kodiak, Alaska.
The vessel had over 10 miles of drift net on board and was detected dragging over 2 nautical miles of drift net, a practice universally condemned for indiscriminately killing massive amounts of fish and marine life. The seizure highlighted international cooperative efforts to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing—considered to be a serious threat to American fishing jobs and communities, as well as to the health of the world's oceans.
A Coast Guard cutter escorted the 140-foot vessel to 12 nautical miles off Unalaska Island, but could not allow it to moor in Dutch Harbor until the rat population aboard the vessel could be exterminated.
NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement will have the ship surveyed to determine the value of vessel as well as the catch product aboard – 30 tons of squid and 30 sharks.
NOAA, working with the Office of the U.S. Attorney in Anchorage, is seeking forfeiture of the vessel and its catch. Federal law stipulates a process where the owner has a reasonable time to come forward and claim the vessel. If the owner of the vessel does not come forward after due process is followed, all alternatives to dispose of the vessel will be considered to find the most effective course of action. This legal process needs to run its course before any decision regarding disposition of the vessel or catch can be made.
NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement continues its investigation into illegal fishing activities by this and any related vessels, as well as into those behind and profiting from this unlawful activity.
Once the investigation of the Bangun Perkasa's fishing activity is completed, NOAA will forward its findings to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
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