INTERPOL Issues Purple Notice on Rogue Fishing Vessel

The ship, currently believed to be called "Thunder," allegedly has sailed under several flags recently to avoid detection of illegal fishing activities.

INTERPOL has issued a Purple Notice asking its member countries to assist New Zealand, Australia, and Norway in finding a vessel suspected of significant illegal fishing – possibly more than $60 million worth since it was blacklisted by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in February 2006.

"Currently believed to be called 'Thunder,' the ship has operated under at least three different names and under several flags during the past two years in order to avoid detection of illegal fishing activities," the international law enforcement agency said in its news release.

These various guises include Mongolian registration papers for a vessel called "Wuhan 4," a sighting of the same ship in the North Indian Ocean under the name "Kuko," and another in October 2012 at a Singapore shipyard under the name "Wuhan N 4" and a Mongolian flag. In April 2013, the ship "requested access to a port in Malaysia under the name 'Wuhan 4' but when inspected a few days later in Indonesia, it was using the name 'Thunder' and with the Nigerian flag."

"Thunder has been operating under a number of names and flags over several years and we believe this is being done to avoid been caught violating international laws and conventions," said Gary Orr, manager of operational coordination with New Zealand's Ministry for Primary Industries.

The vessel is currently believed to be operating in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, where it may be fishing illegally for Chilean sea bass, a protected species.