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Sea Shepherd assists as Gabon arrests poachers

Published by FiskerForum, 16-07-2017 · info@fiskerforum.dk

Only a week after commencing Operation Albacore II, a joint operation between Sea Shepherd and the Gabonese government to tackle IUU fishing in Central West Africa, the crew of a Sea Shepherd vessel have assisted Gabonese authorities in the arrest of two illegal trawlers.

The Chinese-flagged pair, Haixin 23 and Haixin 28, were intercepted when five fishing vessels were observed by radar, actively fishing as they crossed from the waters of the Republic of Congo into Gabonese territory.

Armed Gabonese marines (Marine Nationale) boarded and secured the two trawlers without injury or incident as Fisheries Enforcement officers (ANPA) inspected the vessels. The other three trawlers escaped back into Congolese waters.

Inspectors established that neither vessel was licensed to fish in Gabonese waters, and one of the trawlers did not even have a license to fish in Congolese waters.

After a 30-hour transit, the two trawlers, escorted by Bob Barker, have been handed over to local authorities in Port Gentil to commence further investigation and the necessary legal proceedings.

The two 45m trawlers, with crew made up of Chinese and Congolese nationals, are the first arrests undertaken as a part of Operation Albacore II.

‘The arrest of these two vessels at the start of this campaign shows the importance of governments and NGOs working together to secure the seas from poachers,’ said Sea Shepherd’s campaign leader Peter Hammarstedt. ‘We are immensely proud of our collaboration with Gabon which has resulted in this early victory for law and order.’

In 2016 Sea Shepherd partnered with the government of Gabon for the first Operation Albacore campaign, resulting in more than forty inspections carried out at sea and the subsequent arrest of three Congolese trawlers and one Spanish longliner. Operation Albacore II commenced in 2017 with the arrival of Bob Barker in Gabon on the 5th of July.

The campaign aims to expand existing monitoring, control and surveillance measures, and to detect and deter IUU activity while also monitoring legal compliance by licensed fishing operators. Throughout the 2017 tuna fishing season, Marine Nationale and ANPA officers will be stationed on board Bob Barker, working alongside Sea Shepherd crew to patrol Gabon's sovereign waters. Admiral Giuseppe de Giorgi, the former Chief of the Italian Navy, is also crewing on Bob Barker, contributing his experience and skills to increase law enforcement capability in the region.

Source: Sea Shepherd

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