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Image: Revista Puerto / FIS

Court Ruling Orders Seizure of the Tai An Vessel

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Friday, June 14, 2024, 01:00 (GMT + 9)

Federal Court No. 11 where the case for environmental damage is being processed in a collective process decided to issue the definitive seizure of the ship, after considering that the plaintiffs have "been victims of an illegal, illicit, quasi-criminal act." The Prefecture has already been notified.

Everything that the ship's owner, Tai An, Liu Zhijiang, could manage within the Undersecretariat of Fisheries, easing the sanctions for having caught 175 tons of toothfish without authorization in the month of March, was of little use to him: justice has decided to seize the ship due to the environmental damage perpetrated.

Source: Roberto Garrone / Wiki / FIS

“I resolve: To decree the seizure without amount and in accordance with what is considered in this resolution regarding its scope, of the Tai An ship,” states the resolution of the Civil and Commercial Court No. 11. The case began with an anonymous complaint to the Prefecture, continued with the intervention of the Federal Prosecutor's Office and a collective process was established against the company Prodesur for the environmental damage perpetrated by capturing 175 tons of toothfish; also expanding the claim on Zhijiang for joint liability for environmental damage. The prosecutor who intervenes is Dr. Rafael Alberto Espínola.

On March 31, the Argentine Coast Guard received an anonymous complaint “in reference to the alleged environmental damage caused by the Tai An ship” via email, requesting an investigation, which was forcibly presented to the Federal Prosecutor's Office on April 4, beginning to the Autonomous and Definitive Collective Process for environmental, patrimonial, extra-patrimonial or moral and punitive damage for illegal fishing within the Argentine Exclusive Economic Zone”, as stated in the cover of the case.

Reference is made: “Specifically, to the marine or oceanic ecosystem of the Argentine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEA) of which the globally protected migratory natural resource is part: the Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides), an 'interjurisdictional' migratory environmental natural resource or good. of the national heritage,” they stated in the complaint.

The plaintiffs requested the order to pay a sum equivalent to the international market value of the illegal capture or fishing of 175 tons of the toothfish species carried out by the vessel, “plus whatever more or less results from applying the equations or mathematical models to calculate the recomposition value or the impact of the damaged environment.”

Source: Stockfile FIS / Clarín

They also requested that “the defendants be ordered to pay a sum as punitive damage as a result of the reckless, intentional and malicious conduct of the defendants,” requesting that compensation be integrated into the Environmental Compensation Fund, to be created for the purpose of provide the Prefecture, “with the technical and/or technological means to improve operations to control illegal fishing throughout the Argentine territorial sea, the Malvinas and Georgia Islands and the South Sandwich Islands.”

<-- Source: Stockfile FIS / Clarín

In the resolution published on May 31, it has been pointed out, after analyzing the profuse documentation presented by the plaintiffs and supported by the conclusions of the administrative file that they considered compelling, the report of the Federal Fisheries Council and INIDEP, that the plaintiffs have been victims of a quasi-criminal act.

They indicate that they have “been victims of an illegal, illicit, quasi-criminal act”, constituted by “the intentional and malicious capture and illegal appropriation for their own benefit of a 'protected' and 'inter-jurisdictional' renewable migratory natural resource such as toothfish, heritage of the entire community.”

The actions carried out by Prodesur "have been extremely serious as they are clearly aimed at contradicting the protection policy of the aforementioned resource, which enables the application of sanctions." They also mention the raid, the sanctions of fine, suspension and confiscation that were ratified by Zhijiang, who paid 804,069,711 pesos on account for the value of the merchandise.

The judge points out that: “The danger in delay is clearly configured by the importance of ensuring compliance with a possible sentence of conviction by safeguarding collection through an asset that, due to its nature and activity, can generate other possible credits of third parties in their commercial operations and a considerable risk that can affect the integrity of the value of any vessel due to the conditions inherent to the navigation activity.”

For all these reasons, it was decided to decree the embargo of the Tai An ship, giving notice of this “definitive embargo” to the Prefecture and communicating this week to Liu Zhijiang in his capacity as president of Prodesur, according to the file. Now it remains for the National Ship Registry to be notified. In the end, fishing for toothfish without authorization ended up being very expensive.

Author: Karina Fernández | Revista Puerto  (Translated from the original in Spanish)

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