Peru increases controls on the foreign fleet that uses its ports
By Michelle Carrere
2 November 2020
Main image: Boats that catch cuttlefish fish at night. Photo: Simon Ager / Sea Shepherd.
- According to an analysis by Global Fishing Watch, some Chinese vessels have stopped transmitting their satellite position when they are at the limits of the Peruvian sea.
- As of January 2021, all foreign vessels must carry an additional satellite monitoring system, compatible with the Ministry of Production.
The country established a new regulation that requires foreign vessels that use a Peruvian port to carry an additional satellite device to the one they already bring, which will allow the Peruvian authorities to know more precisely what the route and movements of the ship were.
The new provision has been celebrated by representatives of the fishing sector and researchers since, according to an analysis carried out by the satellite monitoring platform Global Fishing Watch (GFW), some Chinese vessels could be turning off their satellite system at the limits of the Peruvian sea, just as it has been proven that they do it against Argentina to fish illegally in that country.
To this important advance, it is added that for the first time Peru is taking a case of illegal fishing committed by a Chinese flag boat to trial . It is about Run Da 608 which, according to investigations by the Santa’s Special Environmental Prosecutor’s Office, illegally captured 19 tons of giant squid in the Peruvian sea in October 2018.
The judge of the Second Preparatory Investigation Court of the Santa Superior Court of Justice, Karina Medina Machado, ordered the start of the oral trial against Zhuang Hanbo, captain of the Chinese vessel, who could face a sentence of three years and four more months the payment of S / 71,250 (19,700 USD). According to a statement from the Public Ministry, the fine “should be paid in solidarity with the company Zhoushan Zhongju Ocean Fisheries.”
More accurate satellite monitoring
When it was detected, in October 2018, that Run Da 608 could be illegally fishing for squid in the interior of the Peruvian sea, the ship was sailing towards the port of Chimbote, specifically to the Industrial Services of the Navy (SIMA) to carry out maintenance activities, says Eloy Aroni, GFW analyst, in an article published on the Oceana Peru portal.
The deputy prosecutor who carried out the investigation, Carla Ramos, specified that the boat was detected thanks to the fact that its satellite system showed that it remained for a long time at a low speed, corresponding to the one that occurs while fishing activities are carried out. After being seized for about two months, the vessel left Peruvian territory for a payment of 20,000 soles.
Mongabay Latam detected that the Run Da 608 changed its name to NING TAI 717 after, on June 16 of this year, it ceased to belong to the Zhoushan Zhongju Ocean Fisheries company, to become part of the fleet of another company that it also has a history in a Peruvian port. This is the Zhoushan Ningtai Ocean Fish company, owner of the Ning Tai 17 vessel, which was captured in June 2016 in the port of Callao with 27 bags of 24 kilos each of stuffed seahorses, a quantity that corresponds to more than 8 million horses in total, according to the newspaper El Comercio .
Run Da 608. Photo: Public Ministry.
In addition, Zhoushan Ningtai Ocean Fish is the second company that sent the most boats to fish in front of the exclusive economic zone of Galapagos last July, according to the investigation of Mongabay Latam #MaresSaqueados .
“The Asian squid fleet that operates in these waters uses the Peruvian ports of Chimbote and Callao, as well as Montevideo in Uruguay as its main points for resupply, maintenance and crew change,” says the GFW report.
Therefore, and considering the reputation of the Chinese fleet due to its history of illegal fishing in Argentine waters, it is that representatives of the fishing sector in Peru have spent years asking the government for greater control requirements for those foreign vessels that wanted to use the ports of this country.
The demand was finally heard and the Ministry of Production (Produce) established new conditions for the use of the ports. According to the new regulation, all foreign-flagged fishing vessels that want to use national ports will have until December 31, 2020 to install a satellite tracking system that is compatible with the one used by Produce to monitor Peruvian vessels. Likewise, they must deliver the information on their positioning corresponding to the last six months prior to entering the port.
Chinese ships in the Port of Montevideo Photo: Milko Schvartzman
“It is one of the things we have been demanding,” says Alfonso Miranda, president of the Committee for the Sustainable Management of Giant Squid (Calamasur), a group made up of players from the squid industry in Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico. “Ideally, no port (for these ships) should be given,” says Miranda, but adds that “what we were interested in was at least to have effective control”, since he assures that “there are artisanal fishermen who they have seen them (Chinese vessels) fishing within their maritime domain ”.
The president of Calamasur adds that, although the new regulations are good news, it is essential that Asian ships arriving at Peruvian ports be duly inspected. However, Mongabay Latam detected that in May and September 2019, the HuaLi8, a Chinese-flagged ship with a history of illegal fishing, used the ports of Callao and Chimbote, but was not inspected .
Ships turned off their GPS systems
The Chinese fleet that operates off the maritime territories of the countries of South America is growing. “The number of active Chinese-flagged fishing vessels operating in areas regulated by the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO) – an intergovernmental body charged with managing the offshore squid fishery – has increased by approximately 400 percent in nine years, ”says the GFW report. If in 2010 there were 104 vessels, in 2014 the number increased to 264 and in 2019 to 516.
In addition, the document specifies that when the fleet is in front of the territorial sea of Peru, it is when it reaches its largest size. Between January and April, one part of the fleet operates in an area located east of the limit of the exclusive economic zone of the Galapagos Islands, while the other is active off Argentina, explains Aroni. But, when May arrives, both groups begin to move to the limit of the Peruvian sea and it is there that they meet “to form a giant fleet” of about 350 ships, the report says.
Image: Global Fishing Watch.
Although the Chinese vessels that operate in front of the Peruvian territorial sea carry a satellite system called Automatic Identification System (AIS), Global Fishing Watch assures that it has been identified that certain vessels deactivate it near the limits of the exclusive economic zone of Peru. An example of them is the HuaLi 18, as shown in this image.
Capture of the map showing the interrupted route of the HuaLi 18 right on the edge of Peru’s exclusive economic zone. Image: Global Fishing Watch.
“What the map describes is a constant line towards the economic zone of Peru with a direct bearing,” explains Eloy Aroni. Once at the edge of the Peruvian sea, the vessel’s AIS satellite equipment stops transmitting. “The AIS is turned off and it turns on again after a while with a perpendicular line, as if it were leaving the exclusive economic zone of Peru”, describes Aroni.
Not least data is that the HuaLi 18 belongs to the Zhoushan Huali Ocean Fisheries company, the same company that owns the HuaLi 8, a boat that has a history of having fished illegally in Argentine waters in 2016 and was later captured in Indonesia.
Precisely, says Aroni, the pattern followed by Chinese vessels that have been caught fishing in Argentine waters is that they have turned off their AIS so as not to be detected.
HUALI8. Photo: Marine Traffic
Although the analyst points out that an exhaustive analysis of the number of vessels that have shut down their systems has not yet been done, “we have noticed a frequency of shutdowns that is more considerable at the limits (of exclusive economic zones) than in open waters” says the expert.
Another finding from the GFW research is that some vessels manipulate their AIS data to transmit fake locations.
As Aroni explains, both the latitude and the longitude of the ship’s positioning can be manipulated, although he states that when this happens it is easy to detect it on the satellite platform. “We make continuity of the trajectory and when we detect that at a point the location changes abruptly … it gives us the beginning of the AIS alteration”, he explains. In this image, for example, “it seems that the ship had crossed the entire Antarctic, but when we make a correction, which is the yellow color, we see that it is leaving the Argentine area, that it is going through Magallanes towards Peru”, the analyst describes .
The red runways show the transmission position of the Lu Yan Yuan Yu 10 apparently in transit through Antarctica (inset). The yellow tracks show your true location along the coast of South America passing through the Strait of Magellan and into the port of Lima, Peru. Image: Global Fishing Watch.
This is just one example, says Aroni, since “if you check the platform and go to the New Zealand area, you will find around five or six tracks (trajectories) that are now, in the last two months, transmitting there, but they are close to Peru ”, he says. In other words, the boats are not in New Zealand as indicated by their GPS position, but are close to Peru.
The new regulation of Produce is an important advance in the control and monitoring of this fleet, says the analyst, since the new device that foreign ships will have to carry cannot be turned off or manipulated and, furthermore, the data it provides “is more robust ”, Considering that said system was created with the objective of supervising. The AIS, on the other hand, was created to assist ships in their navigation to, for example, avoid collisions between vessels.
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