One week after the announcement of Operation Albacore II, a joint operation between Sea Shepherd and the Gabonese government to tackle illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing in Central West Africa, the crew of the Sea Shepherd ship, Bob Barker, has assisted Gabonese authorities in the arrest of two illegal fishing trawlers.
The two trawlers, Haixin 23 and Haixin 28, flagged to China, were intercepted when five fishing vessels were observed by radar crossing the border between the Republic of Gabon and the Republic of Congo under the cover of darkness, with their fishing gear deployed and actively fishing.
Armed Gabonese marines (Marine Nationale) boarded and secured the two trawlers without injury or incident as Fisheries Enforcement officers (ANPA) inspected the vessels. The other three trawlers escaped across the border into Congolese waters.
Upon inspection, it was discovered that neither vessel was licensed to fish in Gabonese waters, and one of the trawlers did not even have a license to fish in Congolese waters.
After a 30-hour transit, the two vessels, escorted by the Bob Barker, have been handed over to local authorities in Port Gentil to commence further investigation and the necessary legal proceedings.
The two 45-meter-long trawlers, with crew made up of Chinese and Congolese nationals, are the first arrests undertaken as a part of Operation Albacore II.
“The arrest of these two vessels at the start of this campaign shows the importance of governments and NGOs working together to secure the seas from poachers. We are immensely proud of our collaboration with Gabon which has resulted in this early victory for law and order.”
Campaign Leader Captain Peter Hammarstedt