Owned by Dongwon Industries, the purse seine fishing boat Premier is sailing to Port Louis, where it has been given permission to enter by Mauritian authorities, despite the fact it has been accused of illegal fishing off the coast of Africa.
The Premier was later found to be using falsified letters claiming it had permission to fish in waters where no permission had been given. The Bureau of National Fisheries (BNF) in Liberia has confirmed that these letters were forged, said Greenpeace International.
Mauritius will host a meeting next month of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) where issues to curb illegal fishing, compliance and sustainability of the region's tuna fisheries will be discussed.
"The Mauritian government needs to follow other coastal states in the region that have already refused the vessels entry into their port. If Mauritius allows this vessel permission to enter it is a slap in the face of other states seriously fighting illegal fishing and a signal to the world that Port Louis is wide open for suspected illegal fishing operators. This would be an appalling move ahead of the IOTC meeting," Greenpeace International oceans campaigner Oliver Knowles said.
"If the Premier is allowed to unload its cargo of fish then Mauritius risks the reputation of the canneries and brands operating there because it is possible that illegally caught tuna will enter the Mauritian supply chain. We will be alerting businesses and consumers to this risk."
Greenpeace International has sent a letter the Mauritian prime minister and the fisheries minister demanding the Premier be refused port entry and services. Greenpeace wants tuna fishing in the Indian Ocean to be managed sustainably and with transparency, so the region is protected from big tuna companies only interested in fast cash at the expense of a healthy marine environment.