Captain Peter Hammarstedt has provided the following update from Operation Albacore in Gabon.
June marks the official commencement of the tuna-fishing season in Gabon, with the first fishing vessels arriving from the European Union (EU). As ship traffic increases, Gabonese authorities and the crew of the Bob Barker remain focused on the aim of Operation Albacore: to expand monitoring, control and surveillance measures; to detect and deter IUU fishing activity; and to ensure legal compliance by licensed fishing operators.
Inspectors from the ANPA (Gabonese Fisheries Enforcement Agency), assisted by marines from the Gabonese Navy (Marine Nationale) and the crew of the Bob Barker, have commenced preliminary inspections of the EU fishing vessels to ensure compliance with local and international regulations, and also to monitor bycatch. Over 20 inspections have taken place in the last week alone.
The three Congo-flagged vessels that were arrested in May following a three-day coordinated effort between the ANPA, the Marine Nationale and Sea Shepherd, remain under detention in Mayumba. At the time they were intercepted the three trawlers were actively engaged in illegal fishing inside Gabon's territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone. In a testament to the effectiveness of Operation Albacore’s surveillance measures, no new incursions from Congo to Gabon have occurred since the arrests.
We are incredibly proud of our alliance with the Government of Gabon. This landmark campaign shows the hugely positive impact that governments and NGOs, working together, can have on the protection of the world’s oceans.