A new report from Greenpeace accuses Samherji of engaging in environmentally damaging and possibly illegal fishing practices. Samherji’s director denies the accusations.
A new report from Greenpeace, “Monster Boats”, casts a spotlight on vessels from around the world which practice unsustainable or illegal fishing, often hiding their ownership behind numerous shell companies. Two ships from Iceland – the Norma Mary and Saga GDY-150 – are reportedly owned by the same company, Samherji.
The Norma Mary is accused of “using bottom trawl” which “contributes to destructive fishing globally”.
“Vessel tracks of the Norma Mary suggest that in 2012, it had been fishing in a fjord on Svalbard, including inside one of the national park areas,” the report states. “However there is a lack of transparency regarding what the vessel has been fishing for and landed.”
The second ship, Saga GDY-150, is allegedly “involved in overfishing on a global scale by fishing on depleted stocks in West Africa”. The ship also has a reportedly shady history, and obfuscated ownership.
“Under her former owners and former name ‘Blue Wave,’ the vessel was holding an irregularly issued fishing licence in Senegal in 2012 and was caught and fined for fishing in a banned area in Senegal,” the report says. “At the same time, it was involved in at least one offence of switching off its Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) and at least one offence of destruction of artisanal fishermen’s gears. The owner of the vessel was fined CFA Franc 30 Million (€47,700) plus compensation for the destruction of the fishing gear.”
Speaking to DV, Samherji director Þorsteinn Már Baldvinsson has dismissed the allegations, saying that Samherji does not own Saga GDY-150 but instead rents it. Greenpeace has questioned this, however, asserting the following:
“100% of Atlantex’ shares [the company which owns Saga GDY-150] belongs to Esja Shipping limited, registered in Cyprus. The ownership of Esja Shipping cannot be traced down. However, until recently, Icelandic company Samherji were the owners of Atlantex (and Atlantex is still listed on their website). The director of Esja Shipping, Ingvar Juliusson, is chief accounting officer in Samherji. One of the board members of Atlantex, Bogusław Szemioth, is an honorary consul of Iceland in Poland.”
Þorsteinn also denies that the Norma Mary is involved in anything illegal, telling reporters that all the fishing that vessel has done at Svalbard has been in an area where everyone is allowed to fish.