The International Marine Registry of Belize (IMMARBE) stripped the Damanzaihao of its flag, at the request of Sea Shepherd Legal, for failing to appropriately complete its vessel registration materials and notify Belize of its record of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, according to a statement issued last week.
The move renders the vessel stateless, according to marine conservation group Sea Shepherd, who has been working to get the vessel arrested and de-listed in the region.
The Damanzaihao is capable of processing 547,000 tons of fish per year. In February 2015, The South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization or, SPRFMO, declared the vessel a “pirate” and added the Damanzaihao to its lists of vessels involved in IUU fishing, after detecting an unauthorized trans-shipment and false reporting to authorities about cargo of frozen Pacific mackarel. Pacific Mackerel stocks have collapsed in recent years, being caught increasingly for reduction into feed for the salmon farming industry.
Last week Peruvian authorities initiated a criminal investigation into China Fishery Group and detained the vessel in the El Ferrol bay, Chimbote. The ship is being held for a period of 70 days for allegedly polluting the Peruvian sea and for criminal charges relating to IUU fisheries crimes spanning from South America to New Zealand. Ministerio Publico Fiscalia de la Nacion said fines for the vessel could be up to $7 million.
In April, bankrupt China Fishery Group, said it would sell the controversial vessel to Singapore-based DVS-R PTE, in a New York Bankruptcy Court. Sea Shepherd has received documents affirming the sale has gone ahead within Peruvian waters.
Over the past two weeks, the Damanzaihao had twice requested permission to leave port.
Sea Shepherd Vessel M/V John Paul DeJoria was recently in Peruvian waters, investigating and gathering intelligence to assist the Peruvian Government, in its fight against IUU fishing. Sea Shepherd's Captain Paul Watson stated “Sea Shepherd will work hard to ensure that other potential flag states follow suit should the Damanzaihao ever be allowed to leave Peruvian waters. If it ends up on the other side of the world, I hope it is in the form of paperclips, after it has been scrapped.”