Illegal fishing vessels with Azzopardi flags
Anthony Gruppetta, director-general of Veterinary Regulation, Fisheries Conservation and Control, raises question against two suspect fishing vessels owned by Azzopardi Fisheries Ltd.
Gruppetta wrote to Malta Shipping Registrar Lino Vassallo and warn against two suspects fishing vessels owned by Azzopardi Fisheries Ltd, after Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund reported their illegal registration to the European Commission. Last month Transport Ministry Austin Gatt ordered an independent inquiry into the illegal re-flagging allegations. FCC principal scientific officer Alfred Fenech Farrugia, writing on behalf of Dr Gruppetta, drew Mr Vassalloâ€™s attention to the two vessels provisionally registered on the Malta Shipping Registry.Dr Fenech Farrugia mentioned that it appears that documents submitted do not match the vessels carrying the names involved. He also said that the vessels are not to be accepted as fishing vessels under the Maltese flag and that the situation is clarified. The two vessels are Manara I and Manara II, owned by AJD Tuna Ltd in partnership with Libyan company Manarat As-Sahil. It is told that both are Libyan flagged tuna purse-seiner vessels, registered to fish for bluefin tuna by the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) under registration numbers ST1220 and ST 1221.But these boats were reflagged as Maltese and renamed MVF Sharone and MVF Gaia I, after two other workboats of those names owned by Azzopardi Fisheries. According to WWF, the reason for this change of identity was that Manara I and Manara II had already been replaced by two new (unlicensed) purse-seiner vessels, brought to Malta from Turkey in April. They said that these two impostor vessels allegedly assumed the identity of the two ICCAT-registered purse-seiners, complete with Libyan flag, but were impounded by Libyan authorities in the port of Al Khumms.The Malta government has declassified the suspect vessels and assured of further actions to stop such imposters.
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