The toothfish poaching vessel Kunlun which fled from the New Zealand Navy in the Southern Ocean has been detained in Phuket, Thailand, on fisheries-related violations, according to conservation group Sea Shepherd.
The vessel was caught by the Navy engaged in illegal fishing in Australian waters in January and last month it was intercepted by the Sea Shepherd ship, Sam Simon, in possession of banned fishing equipment, again in Australian waters.
The HMNZS Wellington spent two weeks pursuing three vessels, the Songhua, Kunlun and Yongding, but left the area after its crew was refused permission to board.
Sea Shepherd says the Kunlun, which is one of six vessels that are known to still engage in Illegal fishing for toothfish in the Southern Ocean, was detained in Phuket in a coordinated effort between Interpol and law enforcement authorities in Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.
"The Australian government has both a legal and moral responsibility to defend its waters from poachers who wish to exploit it," says Captain Sid Chakravarty of the Sam Simon.
"Yesterday, in cooperation with Interpol, and the Thai and New Zealand authorities, they showed that they take those responsibilities seriously."
The Kunlun has a long history of suspected fishing violations and is believed to have links to known Spanish crime syndicate, Vidal Armadores, Sea Shepherd says.
Since 2008, the poaching vessel has changed names at least 10 times in order to avoid prosecution, the group says.
In January, the Kunlun was issued with an Interpol Purple Notice for illegally fishing for toothfish inside an area regulated by the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.