Sea Shepherd Intercepts Toothfish Poachers in the Southern Ocean
Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014
Yesterday, at approximately 2152 AEDT, the Sea Shepherd conservation ship, Bob Barker, intercepted the illegal fishing vessel Thunder, at 62˚ 15’ South, 81˚ 24’ East, inside the CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) region of management.
Fishing gear, marked by the presence of three orange buoys, was also located in close proximity to the Thunder.
A known poaching vessel, the Nigerian flagged Thunder was issued with an Interpol Purple Notice following a joint effort by New Zealand, Australia and Norway. Thunder is also on CCAMLR’s black list of illegal operators, and is known to utilise gillnets in its poaching operations – a method of fishing that is outlawed by CCAMLR.
In the 2006/07 Austral summer, the Australian Customs and Fisheries patrol vessel, Oceanic Viking and the Australia research vessel Aurora Australis, sighted the vessel – then named Typhoon - within the CCAMLR area. In 2013, Australian Fisheries Management Authority reported that regional strike force denied Thunder port access in Penang, Malaysia, and Bali after it tried to offload millions of dollars worth of illegal catch.
Captain of the Bob Barker, Peter Hammarstedt, immediately ordered the Thunder to Fremantle, Australia, to report to Australian law enforcement authorities.
“I have notified the Captain of the Thunder and his crew that they have been placed under citizen’s arrest; that they must cease their illegal fishing activities immediately and report to the Australian authorities. Should they ignore this order, I have notified the Thunder that Sea Shepherd has no choice but to directly intervene in order to obstruct their continued illegal activities.”
Captain Hammarstedt then notified CCAMLR authorities, the Australian Federal Police and Australian Fisheries Management Authority that the vessel had been located within the CCAMLR region.
Captain Hammarstedt has urged Australian authorities to take action against the poachers. “Australia is an integral member of CCAMLR, and has dedicated much time and many resources to combat IUU fishing that targets toothfish in the Southern Ocean. We call on them now to uphold this reputation and take action against these criminal operators.”
Thunder is currently heading in a westerly direction. The Bob Barker is in pursuit.
IUU (Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported) fishing of toothfish continues inside the CCAMLR region, despite the Commission’s efforts to eliminate this threat to the Antarctic ecosystem. Currently six operators are known to be involved in IUU fishing of toothfish inside the area.
Operation Icefish is Sea Shepherd’s 11th Southern Ocean Defence Campaign, and the first to target IUU toothfish fishing operators in the waters of Antarctica.