After completing a covert 20-day patrol resulting in the arrest of three vessels for fisheries crimes, the Sea Shepherd vessel M/Y Ocean Warrior has arrived in Dar es Salaam to officially launch Operation Jodari, a campaign in partnership with the government of the United Republic of Tanzania to tackle illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing in the Western Indian Ocean region.
For the past three weeks, law enforcement agents with the Deep Sea Fishing Authority, Tanzanian Navy and the Multi-Agency Task Team (MATT) have been secretly stationed on board Sea Shepherd’s ship, the M/Y Ocean Warrior, 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, Tanzania Drug Enforcement Agency, 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.
Operation Jodari seeks 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, including fishing vessel inspections and boarding procedures.
On the first patrol of Operation Jodari, nine boardings and inspections were carried out, resulting in three arrests:
- 1. The Chinese-flagged F/V Tai Hong 1 was discovered to be carrying a cargo of shark fins that far exceed the 50 carcasses on board. Under Tanzanian law, the number of shark fins must correspond to the number of trunks (bodies). The twelve Tanzanian fishermen working on board, had been refused water and food by the captain, and shared a small unventilated accommodation space with only beds for two of the twelve, leaving the rest to sleep on the floor on top of one another.
- 2. The Malaysian-flagged F/V Buah Naga 1 was discovered to be carrying a cargo of shark fins. Carcasses had been discarded overboard. An unlicensed firearm, a 9 mm Beretta pistol, was found in the captain’s cabin. The Indonesian fishing crew informed Tanzanian authorities that the captain would regularly threaten them with the pistol to work. If no fish were caught, then the Indonesian crew would not be fed.
- 3. The Tanzanian-flagged F/V Swabir Jamil was discovered fishing in the Tanzania Territorial Sea without a license. The vessel was carrying shark fins.
The F/V Tai Hong 1, F/V Buah Naga 1 and F/V Swabir Jamil were escorted to Tanzanian ports for legal action on the grounds of shark-finning and labor abuses.
"Labor abuses are rife in the high seas fishing industry, with crew forced to work long hours, for little or no pay, and sometimes under the threat of violence. Tanzania is leading the way by investigating these fishing vessels, not just for their fisheries crimes, but also for the convergence crimes, such as labor abuses, that make illegal fishing possible."
Captain Peter Hammarstedt, Sea Shepherd’s Director of Campaigns.
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 Joadari 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.
Operation Jodari is the fourth partnership between Sea Shepherd and African coastal states with the political will to stop IUU fishing.
Since February 2017, under the name Operation Sola Stella, Sea Shepherd has been assisting the government of Liberia to tackle IUU fishing by providing the use of a civilian offshore patrol vessel operating in Liberian waters, under the direction of the Liberian Ministry of National Defense. Operation Sola Stella has resulted in the arrest of ten vessels for IUU fishing.
In 2016 and 2017 Sea Shepherd partnered with the governments of Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe for Operation Albacore, resulting in over 80 fishing vessel inspections at sea and the subsequent arrest of five IUU Congolese fishing trawlers and one Spanish long-liner. Operation Jodari is a continuation of Sea Shepherd’s commitment to work actively with national governments and their law enforcement agents in the fight against IUU fishing.