Togolese in Australia

On the 19th of December 2010 Australian fisheries officers on-board the patrol vessel 'Ocean Protector' detected a fishing vessel in the Southern ocean. The port of Lome was written on the stern of the vessel, a Togo flag was also flying at the stern but no flag was flying on the mast, the location where a vessel must fly it's flag of registration when at sea. The call sign 5VZS5 was visible on both sides of the vessel identifying the vessel as the fishing vessel 'Zeus', a vessel which had been listed on the CCAMLR IUU vessel list since 2007 and as a result had recently been deregistered from the Togolese register by their Authorities.

The Australian officers radioed to the vessel and notified the Master of their intention to board and inspect the vessel as it was not flying a flag (in the correct location) when first encountered as required under UNCLOS Article 110 1 (d) and thus the vessel was without nationality. The Master agreed to the inspection, but requested the inspection team to wait until they were ready to receive them. The vessel was stopped for the majority of the communication due to engine failure.

While the patrol vessel was waiting for permission to board, the crew of the fishing vessel hoisted the Togolese Flag up the mast, to signify that the vessel was registered to Togo. The patrol vessel informed the Master of the fishing vessel that they had been informed that the vessel has been deregistered by Togolese authorities, and they would therefore still like to proceed with the inspection of the vessel.

The Master agreed to the inspection, but again requested some more time to prepare. The crew then took to the deck again, this time to paint the name 'Lana' onto the side of the vessel and to change the flag on the mast to a Mongolian flag, thus now declaring the vessel to be registered to Mongolia.

The Master had originally stated that he had stopped the vessel due to an engine failure, but the Australian fisheries...

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