Four Vietnamese 'Blue Boats' Located In Vanuatu's Exclusive Economic Zone

Vessels increasingly identified as illegally fishing in the Pacific region

By Thompson Marango

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 26, 2017) – Four illegal Vietnamese fishing boats infamously known as “Blue Boats” have been located inside the Vanuatu Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) early this week and could be in any remote reefs of the country at this time.

“Blue boat” is the name given to blue Vietnamese build wooden fishing boats between 10 to 15 meters long. They are ocean going vessels moving into the Western Pacific Islands in search of reef resources such as sea cucumber, giant clams, trochus, lobster and fish.

Four of these “Blue boats” were arrested by the New Caledonia Authorities last week for fishing illegally in the northern reefs of the country but have been released after their catches were confiscated in Noumea.

These boats are known to be equipped with scuba and hookah diving gears and experienced fisheries divers with capacity to clean a reef of its resources in a day.

“This is the first time we are aware that these boats are inside our EEZ,” said Fisheries Director, Kalo Pakoa told Daily Post.

He stated in a press release from the Fisheries Department that the remote uninhabited reefs and lagoons and areas remote from the eyes of inhabitants of the Pacific Islands are prime target areas for these “blue boats”.

“They were spotted for the first time inside the New Caledonian EEZ last year but we are not sure if they also came through the Vanuatu’s EZZ,” Pako said yesterday afternoon.

Blue boats are know for just turning up on the reef and start fishing without talking to anyone or seeking permission from authorities concern. In recent years “Blue boats’ have turned up in Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, PNG and in New Caledonia and Australia.

According to Mr Pakoa, the Patrol Boat RVS Tukoro was deployed in a mission last weekend to where the boats were last located but there was no trace of the four boats.

The vessels do not carry electronic detectable equipment onboard so they are undetectable at sea.

Pakoa said the Fisheries Department was informed of the location of the boats from surveillance partners including the French Navy based in New Caledonia, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, and the Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing.

“The four boats located inside the Vanuatu EEZ were moving from the western part of the Country in a south west direction.

“At the moment we rely on our surveillance partners for further information about the trace of the boats so we can mobilize to catch them.”

Some Island countries have tried burning these boats and drawing international media attention as deterrent but this is not stopping them coming. It is an extra burden to Pacific Island Governments in their fight against illegal unreported unregulated fishing of tuna resources in the region. None of these blue boats entering the Western pacific region have valid fishing license Loin any governments including Vanuatu Government.

Warning goes to the public in Vanuatu that these blue boats do not care about management and conservation of marine resources, they care only about their profit and they can over exploit reef resources if they reach our coastal reefs.

If anyone observe or have any information of any ‘blue boat” activity or any suspicious activity anywhere in the country must report quickly to Fisheries Department and Vanuatu Police in your areas or contact Vanuatu Patrol Boat at Mala Base at the following contacts: Vanuatu Fisheries Department: (+678) 23119 / 5333340/5447335 or Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing (Mala Base): (+678) 22860/22718.

Vanuatu Daily Post
Copyright © 2017 Trading Post Limited. All Rights Reserved

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment