Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sea Shepherd Encounters Illegal Antarctic Vessel Poaching Patagonian Toothfish and Other Rare Species

Bob Barker

Famed environmental activist group Sea Shepherd recently indicated that it had repelled a vessel infamous for poaching Patagonian toothfish and other rare species in the Antarctic waters as part of its attempts to target illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean. The Nigerian-flagged vessel, named the Thunder, was able to sail away but Sea Shepherd stated that it kept up the chase and threatened to "directly intervene in order to obstruct their continued illegal activities" if they did not notify the authorities in Australia. Sea Shepherd did not clarify on what it meant by intervening, but during ten years of provocation that successfully deterred Japanese whalers the activist group utilized all methods of hindrance, which included destroying fishing nets and even boarding boats. The group's lead ship, the Bob Barker, left Australia on December 3 and the group ambushed the Thunder in a fishing area managed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), an international group. According to Bob Barker's skipper Peter Hammarstedt, he had warned the captain of the Thunder and his crew "that they have been placed under citizen's arrest." He further added that he had informed CCAMLR authorities, Australian Federal Police, and Australian Fisheries Management Authority. Sea Shepherd indicated that heightened surveillance and guarding of waters by authorities in Australia and New Zealand had improvised the situation regarding the toothfish in some areas, but added that about six illegal fishing vessels are known to function in the area close to Antarctica. Much of the illegal activities conducted by poachers occur in what the group calls the "shadowlands" of the Southern Ocean which are very inaccessible and beyond national areas of authority.
Patagonian toothfish

It is wonderful to see what kinds of tactics Sea Shepherd is implementing to snare illegal fishing vessels and maintaining commendable contact with proper authorities. This is example was recently seen in the case of the group intercepting a fishing vessel operating in the Southern Ocean. However, despite increased security and patrolling of waters in Australia and New Zealand, the threat of illegal fishing still threatens the population of Patagonian toothfish and other rare species in the ocean. This is especially seen in remote areas that are inaccessible by authorities and even Sea Shepherd itself. This is why it is very crucial to employ tactics in order to properly access into remote areas occupied by illegal fishing vessels. This can be done by apprehending crew members from such vessels and interrogating them on how their counterparts are able to access through remote areas to carry out their illicit activities. That way, activist groups like Sea Shepherds and authorities can further combat illegal fishing of rare species in waters around the world.

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