Sea Shepherd Seizes Massive Illegal Longline in the Galapagos

Watch video of the crew confiscating longline!

WMV - 2 minutes 6.4MB

The crew of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Farley Mowat spent a productive day on July 1st hauling in an illegal longline found 10 miles south of Isabela Island and some thirty miles inside the protected Galapagos National Park (GNP) Marine Reserve.

International Director Jonny Vasic documents the miles of illegal
long line that took the crew of the
Farley Mowat over 5 hours to pull in

On July 1, 2007, at 08:15am, deckhand Amber Paarman spotted a suspicious motorboat from our ship's crow's nest, at a distance of 6-7 nautical miles (nm) south of the Farley Mowat's position. A thorough search of the surrounding area commenced as Captain Alex Cornelissen immediately suspected poaching activities. All hands were called on deck when a series of buoys were sighted running perpendicular to the bow of the Farley Mowat. The longline carried none of the required bird-scaring devices and was set to target yellow-fin tuna.

Crewmember Ben Baldwin and crew use
the windless winch to haul in
miles of illegal longline

By hand, crewmember Tom Baldwin pulls in
more of the illegal longline

A call was made to Sean O'Hearn-Gimenez, director of operations Sea Shepherd Galapagos, who informed First Officer Peter Hammarstedt that the line was undoubtedly illegal and in violation of the rules and regulations of the Galapagos National Park. At 08:30am, the crew began pulling in the line, freeing any and all animals unfortunate enough to fall victim to the poachers, and seizing all of the illegal fishing gear.

Crewmember Willie Houtman unhooks
a yellow fin tuna from a longline and
saves it from certain death

This unfortunate yellow fin tuna is
the intended catch with a
longline hook in mouth

Second and third lines were spotted, and both were subsequently confiscated. During the course of the enforcement action, a Sea Shepherd zodiac was deployed to gather evidence on the poaching vessel which continued to illegally set monofilament line at a distance of 5 nm from the Sea Shepherd ship. Video was taken which will hopefully lead to the prosecution of these law-breakers. When the poachers realized that they'd been caught red-handed, they began throwing equipment overboard, eager to destroy evidence, which was later confiscated. The video evidence will be handed over to the GNP.

Farley Mowat's inflatable boat speeds off
in an effort to catch up with the illegal longline
boat in the Galapagos Marine Reserve

The zodiac crew work to successfully
release a manta ray that has been
caught on the longline

After five hours, all lines were safely onboard the Farley Mowat never to kill again. In total, 30 nautical miles of illegal longline were confiscated, including 270 baited hooks. Fifteen three-foot long yellow-finned tuna were found dead on the line. But there were live releases, too: Two yellow-finned tuna, one sting ray, and a five-foot manta ray were released during the rescue effort and were last seen swimming off in the distance, given a second chance at life by Sea Shepherd volunteers intent on seeing this UNESCO World Heritage Site protected.

Pro Surfer Dave Rastovich and crewmember
Sarah McNabb clip longline hooks
off of the nylon line

The crew of the
Farley Mowat work
as a team for hours to bring in
miles of long line


Crew pull in dead yellow fin tuna and longline

The Farley Mowat crew pull in buoys
attached to the longline

Enforcement actions by Sea Shepherd in the Galapagos over the past month have included the seizure of over 19,000 illegally-taken shark fins with the cooperation of the Ecuadorian Environmental Police and in investigation uncovering the destruction of protected mangroves in a wetlands ecosystem.

More breaking news from the Galapagos! Read about our bust of sea cucumber poachers!

Large plastic bags hold the confiscated longlines; the plastic jugs
were used as make-shift flotation devices to buoy the longlines