Sea Shepherd assists Gabon in arrest of illegal trawler inside Marine Protected Area
Monday, 29 Jul, 2019
One week after the announcement of Operation Albacore IV, a joint operation between Sea Shepherd and the Gabonese government to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Central West Africa, the crew of the Sea Shepherd ship, Bob Barker, assisted authorities from the Republic of Gabon with the arrest of an illegal fishing trawler caught inside the Grand Sud du Gabon Aquatic Reserve.
Armed Gabonese marines were able to quickly secure the Chinese-flagged Haixin 27 as it was detected crossing into Gabonese waters from neighboring Republic of Congo (ROC) while Gabonese fisheries enforcement officers uncovered that the fish hold was full despite the vessel carrying no fishing logbook.
Although the Haixin 27 was not actively fishing at the time of apprehension, electronic evidence seized on board proves the Haixin 27 has a history of fishing illegally in Gabon.
The Bob Barker handed over the Haixin 27 to a Gabonese Navy riverine patrol boat (RPB) and after a 24-hour transit, the trawler arrived in Port Gentil for the commencement of further investigations and legal proceedings.
“Through the close cooperation between Sea Shepherd and the government of Gabon, we can together stamp out illegal fishing and defend the wonderfully rich biodiversity of the Gulf of Guinea region. The arrest of the Haixin 27 sends a powerful message to all fishing vessels that illegal fishing will not be tolerated in Gabon."Madeleine Habib, captain of the Bob Barker.
Two years ago, two sister ships to the Haixin 27, the Haixin 23 and Haixin 28, both also flagged to China, were intercepted when five fishing vessels were observed by radar crossing the border between Gabon and ROC under the cover of darkness, with their fishing gear deployed and actively fishing. The other three trawlers escaped across the border into Congolese waters.
Two years ago, Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba declared the creation of nine new national marine parks and 11 new aquatic reserves at the United Nations Ocean Conference in New York, amounting to the largest network of marine protected areas in Africa.
Operation Albacore IV aims to continue defending Gabon’s newly-established marine protected areas, to detect and deter IUU fishing activity while also monitoring legal compliance by licensed fishing operators, and to expand existing monitoring, control and surveillance measures.
Watch arrest video (below):