SINGAPORE – A vessel suspected of illegal fishing has been detained in Indonesia with support from INTERPOL and its global network.
The MV NIKA, suspected of conducting illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean and other illicit activities, was seized by the Indonesian authorities.
INTERPOL, through its Global Fisheries Enforcement programme, became involved in the case in June, when alerted to the vessel’s activities in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica by the UK-based not-for-profit organization OceanMind.
Operating under the flag of Panama, the MV NIKA was registered as a general cargo ship, not authorized for fishing activities. Panama requested INTERPOL assistance to locate, track and coordinate international efforts to inspect the vessel.
The vessel is owned by the same company as the STS 50, a blacklisted vessel known to be involved in illegal fishing which was intercepted in Indonesia in 2018. It is suspected of transnational fisheries-related crimes committed by its owners and operators, including illegal fishing, document fraud, the manipulation of shipborne equipment, illegal open-sea transshipments and serious identity fraud.
INTERPOL tracked the movement of the MV NIKA with support from OceanMind, sending daily reports to the relevant countries including Indonesia, New Zealand, Panama, the UK and the US. As it approached Indonesian waters, additional updates were sent to the national authorities hourly, aided by contributions from Global Fishing Watch, leading to its apprehension.
At the request of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) in Indonesia, an INTERPOL team of experts was deployed to the country to assist with inspecting the vessel and collecting evidence. In addition to INTERPOL experts, the team included specialists from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, US Coast Guard and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) Secretariat.
The crew of the vessel remain in police custody while the investigation continues.