UN warns of pirate fishermen looting sea

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The Independent Online

Endangered fish species are being pushed towards extinction by pirate vessels that flout international conventions, the United Nations warned yesterday. The UN report said illegal fishing had doubled in the past 10 years to the point where it accounted for a quarter of the world's catch.

Endangered fish species are being pushed towards extinction by pirate vessels that flout international conventions, the United Nations warned yesterday. The UN report said illegal fishing had doubled in the past 10 years to the point where it accounted for a quarter of the world's catch.

Now 180 countries are being urged to agree a crackdown on what the UN refers to as IUU fishing - illegal, unreported and unregulated - which is threatening tuna and the Patagonian toothfish, on sale in supermarkets as Antarctic sea bass. The fish are often caught by vast pirate factory ships that use huge nets and sail under flags of convenience so that they can dodge legislation protecting dwindling fish stocks.

Greenpeace wants markets that allow IUU fishing to be closed, along with ports that permit IUU ships to dock. It also wants companies which sponsor illegal fishing to be shut down. Their observers say there are more than 1,300 pirate fishing vessels operating worldwide, most of which are flying the flags of Belize, Honduras, Panama and St Vincent. The EU and Japan are the biggest consumers of illegal fish.

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