Super-fishing boat declared a “pirate ship” reports, 31st October 2014: “A shadowy Chinese super-fishing boat that changes flags and names routinely as it illegally plunders the South Pacific is to be declared a pirate ship by a Wellington based international control agency.

Damanzaihao, flying the Peruvian flag, it is the world’s largest fishing vessel at 49,367 tons but no one knows what it does in the waters between New Zealand and South America.

Wellington-based South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) wants to have the converted super tanker declared an “illegal unreported unregulated” (IUU) ship — bureaucratic speak for a pirate fishing boat. Changing names and flags is a common technique in IUU fishing.

Earlier this year as Lafayette and flying a Russian and then a Mongolian flag, it passed through New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone. Later, in international waters east of the North Island, it rendezvoused with four other fishing vessels and a fleet tanker.

For the last six months the fleet, without any permission from SPRFMO or any nation, is suspected of taking thousands of tonnes of mackerel.

Photo: Jessica Shapiro

Photo: Jessica Shapiro

Experts reckon Damanzaihao has a large vacuum system to up-load catch from its fleet and once on board its factory workforce of Third World labour head-and-gut the catch and freeze it. It has not declared any catch to SPRFMO.

Damanzaihao is owned by the Bermuda registered Hong Kong based Pacific Andes Food Ltd, one of the world’s largest frozen fish suppliers. They claim the vessel is licensed but SPRFMO say it is not. New Zealand diplomatic and political pressure played a crucial role in setting up the convention to create SPRFMO which regulates high seas fishing in the South Pacific.

But the Chinese are subverting it and on Friday fishing industry website Undercurrent News reported that SPRFMO has Damanzaihao on a draft list of IUU boats. China’s Pacific activities have come under intense scrutiny this year.

In August the Star-Times revealed that an IPO launched by China Tuna Industry Group Holdings on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange had faked data in its documentation. In October the Chinese Bureau of Fisheries, responding to the reports, said the IPO had “gravely misled investors and the international community”.

In the case of Damanzaihao its owner Pacific Andes is trying to refinance its debt of US$1.2 billion (NZ$1.5 billion). Its share price has dropped nearly seven percent over recent months.

SPRFMO is a multinational body that came into force in 2012 in a bid to fend off a collapse of Pacific mackerel that has seen the stock fall from 30 million tonnes to just three million in two decades.

Mackerel is often canned or frozen for human consumption. It is also increasingly used as feedstock for salmon farming.

Source:, 31st October 2014. For the full text see:

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