Sea Shepherd has assisted the Liberian Coast Guard in the arrest of a foreign-flagged industrial trawler caught in artisanal fishing waters.
Despite efforts to conceal her identity, the 32-meter trawler Bonheur was intercepted by the Liberian Coast Guard on November 7 after crossing into Liberian waters from neighboring Côte d’Ivoire with its fishing gear in the water. On sighting the Coast Guard, the captain of the Bonheur changed course, increased speed and attempted to flee Liberian waters. Using the small boat of Sea Shepherd’s ship, the Sam Simon, the Liberian Coast Guard and Sea Shepherd crew were able to board and secure the Bonheur before it could escape.
The boarding team discovered that nets had been draped over the name of the vessel in a bid to conceal its identity from artisanal fishermen who could have otherwise reported the incursion to the Liberian Coast Guard.
The Bonheur was arrested fishing five nautical miles off the coast; within the six-nautical-mile area the Liberian government banned industrial trawling to protect the livelihoods of Liberia’s artisanal fishermen. Around 33,000 Liberians who depend on small scale fisheries for their income. The ban, enacted through the establishment of an inshore exclusion zone (IEZ), has resulted in a noticeable increase in fish populations off the coast, says Sea Shepherd.
The Bonheur was subsequently escorted to port by the Sam Simon, where its cargo of fish was confiscated by Liberian authorities.
The arrest of the Bonheur marks the start of Operation Sola Stella III, the third partnership between Sea Shepherd and the Liberian Ministry of National Defense. The apprehension is the 13th arrest of a vessel for fisheries crimes in Liberian waters since February 2017.
Source: Maritime Executive