The engine room of the Oleg Naydenov, a pelagic trawler flagged to the Russian Federation, caught fire on 11 April whilst the vessel had been docked at the port of Las Palmas, in the Canary Islands.
The vessel, which at the time had been carrying a load of cardboard in its hold, was evacuated and tugged away from port for fears that its laden fuel tank might explode.
Whilst there were hopes that, having controlled the fire, the vessel might survive the incident, Oleg Naydenov has now sank to a depth of 2.4 Km laden with over 1,400 tons of fuel. Environmental organisations have indicated that the ensuing leak may be endangering deep coral and marine mammal habitats.
Oleg Naydenov was seized in 2014 by Senegalese authorities over allegations of repeated IUU fishing behaviour. Spain’s authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding the fire and subsequent sinking of the vessel.
The sinking of the Oleg Naydenov is the second high profile incident involving the destruction of a vessel linked to allegations of IUU fishing in unclear circumstances. The Interpol listed IUU fishing vessel Thunder sank earlier this month in an apparent scuttling incident in the waters of Sao Tome after a 110 day pursuit by the Sea Shepherd vessel Bob Barker.