Cameroon Now A Go-To Country For Vessels Engaged In Illegal Fishing
Off the coast of West Africa, the Trondheim is a familiar sight: a soccer field-sized ship, plying the waters from Nigeria to Mauritania as it pulls in tons of mackerel and sardines — and flying the red, yellow and green flag of Cameroon. But aside from the flag, there is almost nothing about the Trondheim that is Cameroonian, Richa Syl and Grace Ekpu reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Photo Insert: The Trondheim and at least five others have a history of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUUU).
The Trondheim is one of several vessels reflagged under Cameroon’s growing fishing fleet that have changed names and been accused of illicit activities at sea. Currently, an investigation by AP found that 14 of these vessels are owned or managed by companies based in European Union (EU) member-states: Belgium, Malta, Latvia, and Cyprus.
The AP examined over 80 ship profiles on MarineTraffic, a maritime analytics provider, and matched them with company records through IHS Maritime & Trade and the International Maritime Organization or IMO.
“They’re interested in the flag. They’re not interested in Cameroon,” said Beatrice Gorez, coordinator for the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements, a group of organizations highlighting the impacts of EU-African fisheries arrangements that identified the recent connection between companies in EU member states and the Cameroon fleet.
Each of the vessels changed flags to Cameroon between 2019 and 2021, though they had no obvious link to the country and did not fish in its waters.
The Trondheim and at least five others have a history of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUUU), according to a report by the environmental group Greenpeace. Both the vessels and their owners conceal what they catch, where it goes, and who is financially benefiting from it, maritime and company records show.