Illegal Fishing

Illegal Fishing

7 April, 2016
Sea Shepherd
We meet the flagship vessel of Sea Shepherd, which seeks to enforce conservation laws on the high seas.
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Hong Kong received a unique visit this week from the Steve Irwin, the flagship vessel of Sea Shepherd, which seeks to enforce conservation laws on the high seas.

The vessel came to Hong Kong for two days, anchoring in the channel off of Lantau, to refuel and resupply after pursuing a Chinese fishing boat from the Indian Ocean to a port near Zhuhai.

Operation Driftnet set sail from Australia to a section of ocean approximately 1,500 miles west of Perth in the Southern Indian Ocean, where a group of vessels had been spotted in an area that is not normally fished. This curious behaviour prompted Sea Shepherd to travel to the position to investigate.

What they found were six Chinese boats using illegal driftnets. Upon seeing the approaching Sea Shepherd vessels, the Chinese boats cut their lines and fled. Violating at least ten different international laws, these boats were catching up to one thousand sharks a day with their illegal nets. The Steve Irwin spent several days pulling in 5 km of driftnets containing 321 dead bodies of various species that had been tangled in the nets. This indiscriminate killing of everything in the path of the net (including ‘bycatch’ of unwanted or even protected species) is precisely the reason why the United Nations banned their use in 1992.

The Steve Irwin then followed one of the boats all the way back to Chinese waters, documenting along the way as the fishing crew worked to eliminate any evidence of their illegal operations. One Sea Shepherd crew member stated that the fact the crew had dumped expensive equipment overboard was a strong indicator of their fears of prosecution from the Chinese government. With the fishing equipment gone, the boat can claim to be used as transportation and not as a fishing vessel.

In the words of Captain Sid Chakravarty, “[Sea Shepherd’s job is] to expose this illegality to the world, and work inside this enforcement vacuum to shut them down.”

The Sea Shepherd video of the campaign can be seen here:

By: Ecozine Staff
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