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Sea Shepherd Italy’s Operation Siracusa launched its 2018 campaign with the announcement of the arrest of poachers in the Plemmirio Marine Park.

At the first light of dawn on July 23rd, the Sea Shepherd volunteers patrolling the Plemmirio Protected Area spotted two scuba divers who were illegally capturing sea urchins inside the reserve’s Area B. The Port Authority intervened promptly and, in addition to the prescribed sanction, seized the poachers equipment. The Coast Guard intervened to locate the hidden sea urchins with the help of the Sea Shepherd volunteers,releasing all 1000 of them back inside the Marine Protected Area.

Later the same day Sea Shepherd immediately alerted authorities after spotting a boat fishing illegally with nets just inside the border of another protected area in the reserve’s Area C. The Coast Guard came to stop the boat’s illegal activities and escort it to port.

Sea Shepherd Italy’s Operation Siracusa has 42 volunteers committed to the conservation and protection of sea urchins and dusky groupers in the Plemmirio Marine Park. These volunteers work together with local law enforcement agencies such as the Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza), the Coast Guard, the Carabinieri, the State Police (Polizia di Stato), the Environmental Police (Polizia Ambientale), the Polizia Provinciale, and the Park Authority (Ente Parco).

By promptly documenting and reporting all illegal activities in the reserve to the police, Sea Shepherd has put a huge dent in the poaching activites again this year.

Campaign Background 

The Plemmirio Marine Park is classified as “Area Specialmente Protetta di Interesse Mediterraneo (ASPIM) (Specially Protected Area of Mediterranean Interest), this denomination is conferred to areas of high importance for the conservation of the biodiversity in the Mediterranean, which means areas that need to be protected.

Operation Siracusa, now in its fifth year, fosters the respect of life by protecting, defending, and conserving this wonderful ecosystem and all the species that inhabit it. This sends a clear message to the poachers that operate in the proctected areas of Plemmirio.

The Plemmirio Marine Protected Area is divided into three areas with different level of protection for the marine ecosystem, from A to C. Area A is the most protected: boats are not allowed transiting or mooring there, fishing is completely forbidden, and scuba diving is not allowed. Underwater fishing, scuba diving, and freediving are forbidden in all three areas.


‘Ocean Warrior’ Arrives in Mozambique to Expand the Fight Against Illegal Fishing in Partnership with East African Countries

After six months of successful at-sea patrols in the waters of Tanzania, the Sea Shepherd ship M/Y Ocean Warrior arrived in Maputo, Mozambique to support a meeting between FISH-i Africa Task Force countries developing plans to bolster the fight against illegal fishing in the Western Indian Ocean Region.

Sea Shepherd's at-sea patrols in Tanzania derailed illegal fishing operations, resulting in arrests and the retreat of poachers from Tanzanian waters, successes that may now be replicated in other parts of East Africa.  

The partnership, called Operation Jodari, resulted in the arrest of two long-liners for illegally shark finning, 27 dhows for smuggling and the fining of 19 vessels that retreated from Tanzanian waters to avoid boardings and inspections.

Operation Jodari was initiated by Executive Secretary Juma Mhada and the National Multi-Agency Task Team (NMATT), a unit formed in Tanzania to target individuals and networks that control environmental crime in the region and the illegal trade in wildlife. The NMATT is led by the Tanzania Police Force and includes the Tanzania Forest Services, the Wildlife Division, Fisheries Division and the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service. Law enforcement agents with the Deep Sea Fishing Authority, Tanzanian Navy and the Tanzanian Drug Enforcement Agency joined the NMATT on board the M/Y Ocean Warrior.

At the meeting Executive Secretary Mhada told attendees, “Partnering with Sea Shepherd has enabled Tanzanian law enforcement agencies to work together on board a ship that expands policing capabilities to cover the entirety of Tanzania’s waters. Regional cooperation is key to ridding our waters of illegal fishing. I am confident that collaboration between the East African countries and civil society is the key to winning the fight against illegal fishing. I invite our neighbors to join us in this innovative partnership to save our oceans”.

The visit of the M/Y Ocean Warrior in Maputo was welcomed by Mozambique’s Minister of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries, Agostinho Mondale, who noted that they are currently preparing to host the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Coordination Centre.

In Maputo, Captain Adam Meyerson and the crew of the M/Y Ocean Warrior welcomed FISh-i Africa members and the Honorable Agostinho Mondale on board for a tour of the vessel after which the Minister stated, “as we all know, the Indian Ocean is a place of abundant and diversified fishery resources whose commercial value has made the region one of the main targets of illegal fishing in the world. We welcome the support of Sea Shepherd in the region to help rid our waters of these criminal elements.”

FISH-i Africa has supported Operation Jodari since the beginning, and has been a key actor in fostering regional cooperation on illegal fishing between East African countries. An initiative of Botswana-based Stop Illegal Fishing, FISH-i Africa brought Tanzania’s neighbors together in Maputo to discuss expanding the footprint of at-sea patrols.

Thanking Mozambique for hosting the M/Y Ocean Warrior, Peter Hammarstedt, who was joined in Maputo by Sea Shepherd Global CEO Alex Cornelissen, said, “The effect of a half-year of patrols, under the vision and leadership of a Tanzanian government driven to combat fisheries crime is clear: poachers have fled Tanzanian waters. The poachers have cleared out, illustrating the importance of forming additional partnerships in East Africa. With new countries joining Tanzania, Sea Shepherd and FISH-i Africa, we can rid the Western Indian Ocean Region of illegal fishing. East African countries are at the vanguard, showing the world how it can be done.”

Foreign Poaching Vessels Face Charges for Fishing in Gabonese Marine Reserve

Operation Albacore Legal Update - Last week, Gabonese law enforcement agents, working alongside Sea Shepherd crew on board the M/Y Bob Barker, arrested two foreign industrial trawlers, F/V Jinli 961 and F/V Jinli 962, for fishing without a license in Gabonese waters. The two trawlers were escorted by the M/Y Bob Barker to the port of Libreville, where they now face charges of illegal fishing. 

In 2017, Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba created the largest network of marine protected areas in Africa. The marine protected areas include nine new national marine parks and eleven aquatic reserves. At least one of the detained trawlers was discovered fishing in Cap Esteria Aquatic Reserve - both had shark fins on board.

The Cap Esteria Aquatic Reserve is a designated no-fishing area. The arrest of the two trawlers, assisted by the patrols of the M/Y Bob Barker, is having the desired effect of deterring other fishing pirates as no new incursions have been detected.

"Operation Albacore 3 is an on-going successful partnership between Sea Shepherd, the Gabonese Fisheries Agencies (ANPA), Gabon's National Agency of National Parks (ANPN) and the Gabonese Navy (Marine Nationale) that makes the protection of Africa's largest network of marine protected areas possible. With newly-established marine protected areas comes a pressing need for enforcement. My crew and I are proud to have assisted Gabon in chasing the poachers out of critically-important marine habitats", said Captain Peter Hammarstedt on board the M/Y Bob Barker.


Captain Peter Hammarstedt

Sea Shepherd Captain Peter Hammarstedt has been named as one of the 20 candidates for the 2018 Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award. The UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability awards $100,000 annually to a scientist, entrepreneur, engineer, activist or artist under the age of 40 working on innovative solutions addressing environmental concerns. Two follow-up finalists will receive $5,000 each. If awarded, Captain Hammarstedt will donate it towards Sea Shepherd’s direct-action campaigns focusing on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in Africa.

“While there are organizations that offer policy and technological solutions to combat illegal fishing, Sea Shepherd is the only organization to pioneer the unique approach of providing African coastal states with civilian offshore patrol vessels that are being used by partner countries to bring poachers to justice,” says Captain Hammarstedt.

Born in Sweden, Captain Hammarstedt joined Sea Shepherd as soon as he was old enough to submit an application. In his fifteen years with Sea Shepherd, he has sailed the seven seas from the Labrador Coast to Antarctica, using direct intervention to save as many lives as possible from illegal whaling, sealing and destructive fishing practices. Today he is the Director of Campaigns for Sea Shepherd Global, heading Sea Shepherd's IUU Taskforce for Africa. Read his full bio here.

Candidates come from around the world from a broad range of fields including engineering, climate research, the arts and business, and are nominated by leaders who have already made significant contributions in the environmental arena. A UCLA faculty committee will present three finalists to a panel of judges including author and news commentator Van Jones, philanthropists Wendy Schmidt and Nicolas Berggruen, and Kathryn Sullivan, former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the first American woman to walk in space. The winner will be announced November 14 in a ceremony at UCLA’s Hershey Hall. Funds for the award are made possible as part of a $20 million gift to UCLA from the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation.

Learn more about the Pritzker award and the other 19 candidates here: https://www.ioes.ucla.edu/pritzker-genius/

 Captain Peter Hammarstedt on the M/Y Bob Barker. Photo by Yagazie Emezi/Sea Shepherd. Captain Peter Hammarstedt on the M/Y Bob Barker. Photo by Yagazie Emezi/Sea Shepherd.


Illegal Fishing Activities Thwarted in Tanzania After Six Months of Joint Patrols

Illegal fishing in the waters of Tanzania has been significantly thwarted thanks to six months of at-sea patrols by a coalition of Tanzanian law enforcement agencies, Fish-i Africa and Sea Shepherd crew, working on board the Sea Shepherd vessel, M/Y Ocean Warrior. The first campaign for this unique partnership between civilian organizations and government, called Operation Jodari, has resulted in the arrest of two long-liners for illegally shark finning, 27 dhows for smuggling and the fining of 19 vessels that retreated from Tanzanian waters to avoid boardings and inspections. Patrols will resume after the M/Y Ocean Warrior takes a scheduled break for necessary maintenance and repairs.

“The effect of a half-year of patrols under the vision and leadership of a Tanzanian government dedicated to combating fisheries crimes is clear: poachers have fled Tanzanian waters. The poachers have cleared out, illustrating the importance of forming new partnerships in the Western Indian Ocean Region, while continuing to work side-by-side with Tanzanian authorities that are leading the way in the fight against illegal fishing - not just regionally, but globally. Tanzania has shown the world how to get the job done”, said Sea Shepherd Global’s Director of Campaigns Peter Hammarstedt.

Two Long-liners Arrested for Illegally Finning Sharks

Patrolling areas of the Tanzanian exclusive economic zone (EEZ) previously out of reach of fisheries law enforcement led to the early arrest of two foreign-flagged fishing vessels for illegal shark-finning. On board one of those vessels, the F/V Buah Naga 1, Tanzanian law enforcement agents discovered an unlicensed firearm used by the captain to threaten his fishing crew. The captain, the owner and the ship agent of the F/V Buah Naga 1 remain in custody facing criminal charges.

Nineteen Fishing Vessels Fined for Absconding from Justice

After the arrest of the two fishing vessels and the levying of fines totaling 19 billion Tanzanian Shillings (6,865,160 EUR) against 19 other fishing vessels that absconded from Tanzania to avoid mandatory post-fishing inspections, there has been little-to-no observed fishing activity in Tanzanian waters.

The Tanzanian Multi-Agency Task Team -- led by the Tanzania Police Force and including the Tanzania Forest Services, the Wildlife Division, Fisheries Division and the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service -- believes that the 19 legally-licensed vessels fled Tanzanian because they were similarly carrying out illegal shark-finning despite being licensed for the tuna fishery.

Twenty-seven Dhows Arrested for Smuggling

Since the beginning of Operation Jodari, the M/Y Ocean Warrior has also monitored known smuggling routes between the island of Zanzibar and the mainland of Tanzania.

Twenty-seven dhows -- are traditional cargo boats commonly found trading in the Indian Ocean -- were arrested on numerous charges from smuggling illegal cargos of mangrove timber to be sold on the black market to trafficking of persons.

Tanzanian law strictly protects mangrove forests, which are critical habit for many species of shellfish and fin fish that spawn and nurse there, and thereby crucial to supporting the livelihoods of local communities, especially artisanal fishermen.

Despite the Tanzanian government’s best efforts to enforce wide protections of mangrove swamps, some areas have been exploited to such an extent that natural regeneration is impossible without law enforcement intervention. Busting timber smuggling operations at-sea is an important part of that human intervention. During Operation Jodari it provided the intelligence used by law enforcement for several raids of shore-based operations of the highly lucrative smuggling trade in mangrove timber.

Operation Jodari

Operation Jodari’s campaign mission is to control all vessel operations in the waters of Tanzania, boarding those suspected of IUU fishing, as well as training Tanzanian officers in monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) of fishing activity in Tanzanian waters, such as fishing vessel inspections and boarding procedures.

On board Sea Shepherd’s ship, the M/Y Ocean Warrior, law enforcement agents with the Deep Sea Fishing Authority, Tanzanian Navy, Tanzanian Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Multi-Agency Task Team (MATT) are working alongside Captain Adam Meyerson and Sea Shepherd crew to patrol Tanzania's sovereign waters. The law enforcement agents have the authority to board, inspect and arrest vessels in violation of Tanzanian law. The MATT is led by the Tanzania Police Force and includes the Tanzania Forest Services, the Wildlife Division, Fisheries Division and the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service. It was formed to target individuals and networks that control environmental crime in the region and the illegal trade in wildlife.

It is estimated that between 11 and 26 million tons of fish are caught globally through IUU fishing every year.  Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing and approximately USD $1 billion is lost to IUU fishing in the Western Indian Ocean region annually.

Operation Jodari is supported by Fish-i Africa, a partnership of eight East African countries including Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Somalia, that fosters information-sharing and regional cooperation to combat large-scale illegal fishing in the Western Indian Ocean.



Sea Shepherd news articles from 2012 and earlier.

For articles from 2013 and newer, visit our Sea Shepherd News page.