IUU operation results in eight arrests

SS Liberian Coast Guard during the IUU operation. Photo: Michael Rauch/Sea Shepherd Global

An operation to tackle illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Liberian waters has seen the arrest of eight IUU vessels.

Since February 2017, under the name Operation Sola Stella, the marine conservation group Sea Shepherd has been assisting the Government of Liberia in locating IUU vessels by providing the use of Sea Shepherd’s civilian offshore patrol vessels and crew, operating in Liberian waters under the direction of the Liberian Ministry of National Defense.

In March, the Liberian Coast Guard arrested a Nigerian-flagged fishing vessel with the assistance of Sea Shepherd crew, for actively fishing without a Liberian fishing license, operating in an inshore exclusion zone (IEZ) reserved for local artisanal fishermen, and operating without a mandatory Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs).

The vessel in question is one licensed by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) to export shrimp to the US.

Certification requires vessels to use TEDs to reduce by-catch of turtles and as the US is the world’s largest single importer of shrimp, the rule serves as a critical tool in the protection of sea turtles (and other marine life) around the world.

In December, the DOS informed Sea Shepherd Legal that after being fined and subsequently released by Liberian authorities after more than a two-month detention, the trawler was recalled to Nigeria.

Deterrent

According to information provided by the DOS, the trawler’s owners suspended the crew for 90 days and fired the captain and chief engineer.

In 2016, Sea Shepherd partnered with the government of Gabon for Operation Albacore, resulting in over 40 fishing vessel inspections at sea and the subsequent arrest of three IUU Congolese fishing trawlers and one Spanish long-liner.

According to Sea Shepherd, IUU fishing accounts for up to 40% of the fish caught in West African waters.

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