July 6th, 2019

Lima, Peru– Earlier this month, Sea Shepherd Legal filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of Peru (Sala Penal Permanente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia de la República del Perú) in support of the legal viability of criminal charges against the former owner of the Damanzaihao.

The Damanzaihao has a long and sordid history of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. In 2014, the Damanzaihaowas involved in a transshipment operation in international waters in violation of rules adopted by the South Pacific Regional Fishing Management Organization (SPRFMO). At the time of this incident, the Damanzaihaowas flying the Peruvian flag.

In the years since, the Damanzaihaohas racked up a string of losses in Peruvian tribunals. Time and again, the owner (now, ex-owner) of the vessel has failed to prevail on its claim that Peru lacks jurisdiction to regulate fishing activities on the high seas. With the assistance of Dr. Cesar Ipenza Peralta, Sea Shepherd Legal wrote to encourage the Supreme Court of Peru to affirm a lower court decision that rejected the owner’s latest attempt to scuttle the case on the basis of this spurious assertion.

The Supreme Court of Peru has a chance to establish what should be a non-controversial rule of law: When a vessel flies the flag of a nation, that vessel is subject to criminal charges stemming from acts of illegal fishing in both national and international waters. Peruvian law makes it a crime to extract and transport fish without authorization. The relevant law does notinclude a geographical delimiter — and nothing implies that the Peruvian congress ever intended to exercise anything less than the full extent of its legislative powers. International law allows (and, indeed, obligates) flag States to regulate their vessels when operating on the high seas. The Supreme Court now has a golden opportunity to affirm that this principle is alive and well in Peru.

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