Sea Shepherd and Peruvian government intercept illegal fishing vessels
In June, the first missions of a successful joint operation between environmental prosecutors from the government of Peru and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society encountered and apprehended several illegal fishing vessels in Peruvian waters.
On board the Sea Shepherd ship Ocean warrior, officials and advocates have worked together to support the Peruvian government’s efforts to monitor its sovereign waters. Officials had access to a civilian offshore patrol vessel to help them observe endangered and migratory species and monitor threats to biodiversity. Sea Shepherd Legal has also provided prosecution and policy advice following any interaction and suggestions for the application of national and international law. This team approach has helped identify and address potential policy gaps, Sea Shepherd told EcoWatch in an emailed statement.
The coalition intercepted three small Peruvian trawlers that were potentially involved in illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. Peruvian prosecutors detected the first, Don Santos, fishing in the coastal exclusion zone of the 5 nautical mines of Peru off the coast of Tumbes using the radar of the bridge of the Ocean warrior. They then asked the coast guard to board the ship, when officials realized that the trawler’s satellite monitoring system, which allows law enforcement to monitor the vessel’s movements, was not had not been operational since 2018 and that the crew may have thrown their catch overboard before boarding in an attempt to destroy evidence.
Don Santos, fishing in unauthorized protected areas, with non-functioning satellite monitoring systems, destroying evidence of catch before boarding and / or fishing without a valid license. Peruvian prosecutors detected the illegal activity by radar from the bridge of the Ocean warrior then asked the coast guard to board the ship.
Sea Shepherd Legal helped pay a fine Dos Santos, and the vessel is now banned from fishing until her three fines are paid.
The mission also discovered two other Peruvian trawlers fishing without a satellite monitoring system. One of them did not have a valid fishing license for the Tumbes region. Prosecutors asked the Coast Guard to board the two ships and later sent them back to port for detention.
Globally, IUU fishing threatens the biodiversity and stability of ocean ecosystems. Illegal fishing can cause a fishery to collapse altogether or seriously endanger fish populations. Actions such as removing satellite surveillance and illegal fishing in protected areas thwart official efforts to protect ocean resources for the future.
The coalition discovered the small trawler Mi Pastor fishing without functional satellite surveillance equipment and without a valid fishing license. Sea shepherd
Peru’s rich waters are home to an abundance of marine life, including more than 30 species of whales and dolphins, more than 60 species of sharks and the world’s largest population of anchovies, a Sea Shepherd representative told EcoWatch. In addition, a number of shark species found in Peruvian waters are threatened with extinction. IUU fishing efforts are likely to result in bycatch and / or illegal catches, which can have adverse effects on fragile marine populations.
IUU fishing also threatens the economic well-being of many coastal communities, the long-term food security of the planet and the human rights of those who are compelled to fish for these seafood. The United Nations has linked IUU fishing to a variety of other violations of human rights and fisheries.
Prior to the arrests, three different local boats were observed by the Ocean warrior fishing illegally in a 2 nautical mile coastal exclusion zone off Lobos de Tierra and using harpoon guns to poach octopus. Photographic evidence obtained by the drone of the Sea Shepherd ship is used by environmental prosecutors to mount criminal cases.
“Illegal fishing is only possible because the oceans are often out of sight and out of the sight of law enforcement authorities,” said Peter Hammarstedt, Sea Shepherd director of campaigns. “This is why Sea Shepherd is proud to support FEMA’s leadership in this government initiative to keep their eyes on the water by bringing prosecutors to crime scenes where Peru’s unique marine life is most endangered.”
The success of this unique government-civilian partnership could serve as a model for future law enforcement efforts at sea as more governments accept aid.
“Ocean warrior provides Peruvian environmental prosecutors with a platform to obtain data on the extent of illegal fishing activity in Peruvian waters, extending the long arm of the law to the sea [and] emphasizing why it is imperative for FEMA to have its specialist prosecutors working at sea, ”said Flor de María Vega Zapata, National Senior Coordinating Prosecutor for FEMA. It also showed what is possible through innovative collaboration with civil society, such as Sea Shepherd, the official mentioned.
Illegal fishing vessels intercepted as Peruvian prosecutors sailed on Sea Shepherd vessel
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