Marshall Islands Fishing Company Surprised By Arrest Of Vessel In Kiribati

Taiwanese-owned vessel being held for illegal fishing pending payment of $4 million fine

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, June 12, 2017) – A Marshall Islands-based fishing company has indicated its surprise that one of its vessels was recently arrested in Kiribati.

A Koo’s Fishing Company vessel, Koo’s 108, was arrested late last month in Kiribati for a fishing violation that occurred in 2015 and is now being held until the company pays a $4 million fine — a development that surprised a Koo’s official, who said the company had settled the violation through Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority or MIMRA.

“We made a settlement with MIMRA and our assumption was this resolved it,” said Koo’s Majuro manager Eugene Muller Friday. After the settlement, the vessel was allowed to return to fishing. Koo’s is a Taiwanese company that bases its purse seiners and carrier vessels in the Marshall Islands and in Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia. Koo’s also operates one vessel in joint venture with MIMRA.

All of the Koo’s purse seiners have a regional license to fish in the waters of all eight Parties to the Nauru Agreement members, an area that encompasses Kiribati and the Marshall Islands.

Koo’s 108 violated Kiribati law by fishing in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in 2015. “We fired the captain and fishing master (of the vessel) immediately following the incident,” Muller said.

He said he was surprised when Kiribati Sea Patrol detained the vessel last month. “We assumed MIMRA had worked it out with Kiribati (following the settlement),” he said.  

Radio New Zealand International, in a story last week, said the Kiribati Fisheries Administrative Penalty Committee set the fine at $4 million. Kiribati Police Maritime Unit’s John Mote said the captain and crew will be held in police custody until the fine is paid.

Muller said MIMRA officials are now talking to their Kiribati counterparts in an effort to resolve the situation.

Marianas Variety
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