Posted on July 13, 2018 by Hannah Berry
The marine conservation group Sea Shepherd has arrested three fishing vessels in Gabon whilst working in collaboration with the government to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Central West Africa.
Gabon’s president Ali Bongo Ondimba recently created nine new national marine parks and 11 new aquatic reserves whilst at the United Nations Ocean Conference in New York and declared the region to be Africa’s largest network of marine protected areas.
Trawlers F/V Jin Li 961 and F/V Jin Li 962 were the first to be arrested thanks to the work of the Sea Shepherd vessel M/Y Bob Barker. The trawlers were detected by the vessel’s radar as they crossed the border from Equatorial Guinea to partake in illegal fishing. Armed navy personnel boarded the vessels whilst they were in marine reserves protected under Gabonese Law and found a finned tiger shark hidden in one vessel.
The vessels were immediately detained and held in the Port of Libreville.
A third trawler, the F/V Hua Yi 5, was also arrested. This time the arrest was made near the Congolese border, again for fishing in Gabonese waters without a license.
Over 80 fishing vessels have been subject to inspection since the partnership between Sea Shepherd and the Government was formed and nine vessels have been arrested. The 2018 tuna fishing season is expected to be a target for illegal fishing, so inspectors with the Fisheries Enforcement Agency have pledged to remain onboard Sea the Bob Barker to police the area and deter vessels from fishing illegally.