Saturday, January 10, 2015

Illegal Toothfish Poachers to be Brought to Justice?

Greeting everyone. Today I come to you all with some cautiously good news. Reports are that the country of Mozambique is preparing to arrest the illegal toothfish vessel, "Thunder" should the vessel enter the country's waters. Ports throughout Mozambique have been alerted to the approaching vessel. It is estimated that the amount of catch that the "Thunder" is carrying could exceed a couple million dollars. Due to the ship beginning to run low on fuel and the need to offload it's catch, the ship will have to head to a port sooner than later. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, who has been tailing the ship for a record 25 days, noted that the ship had slowed to a crawl of roughly 2 knots. The latest information I could find is that the ships are roughly 1,200 miles away from Mozambique and are well out of the Southern Ocean where the chase began.

Since the poaching vessel was spotted by Sea Shepherd 25 days ago, the ship has been on the run and has not been fishing. The other Sea Shepherd vessel in the area has been working on pulling up the illegal gillnets that the "Thunder" abandoned as they began to run. So far one massive gillnet has been recovered and a second at last update was still being recovered and appeared to be over 100 kilometers in length (over 60 miles). Over 250 toothfishes alone have been recovered and much of the catch is still being identified as many are in a state of serious decay. As the pressure continues to mount on the poachers, they have started to become more and more desperate.

Slowing to a crawling pace is not the only change in behavior of the vessel that had been doing everything it could to outrun the Sea Shepherd vessel. Over the past couple of days, the poachers have employed aggressive tactics such as shining their search lights directly onto the bridge of the Sea Shepherd ship, "Bob Barker", as well as aggressively turning and charging towards the larger conservation vessel. This shows me that these "people" are getting desperate. Until they began to act aggressively, the crew of the "Thunder" tried to escape Sea Shepherd by moving through the dense ice fields of the Southern Ocean as well as moving through incredibly strong Southern Ocean storms. Since they failed to lose the tail of the conservationists, the poachers have been heading north and as mentioned early, at last update were roughly 1,200 miles away from Mozambique.

With any luck, the poachers will continue to inch towards the waiting arms of Mozambique. With any luck the country that is claiming to be ready to apprehend these criminals will step up and do the job that should have been done by either France, Australia, or New Zealand when the ship was still in the Southern Ocean. This 25 day chase has been going on as an exact result of these three countries failure to arrest a vessel on the Interpol Purple List. Still, Sea Shepherd has not allowed these poachers to get away with their illegal fishing operation. They claim that they will follow these poachers to whichever port they land at, and virtually to the ends of the Earth. Once again, people who love the Ocean can thank this conservation group for taking care of the work of Governments. Hopefully the next time I blog on this topic it will be about the arrest of these illegal toothfish poachers!

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