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Illegal Fishing Devastates African Coast

Monday, Jun 07, 2021

Sea Shepherd’s newly-released 12-minute film, “On the Frontlines: Illegal Fishing in Africa”, shows why our campaigns in partnership with African coastal states to combat illegal fishing in their waters are so important.

Why Africa?
“What I see every single day in Africa is that suffering replicated thousands and hundreds of thousands of times over on the sharks who are bycatch, on the whales caught in nets, and on the fish that ultimately gets thrown into the fish holds,” says Captain Peter Hammarstedt after recounting the death of a whale on the end of a harpoon he witnessed during his first Antarctic campaign. 

Many of you may have discovered Sea Shepherd because of our anti-whaling campaigns in Antarctica, where we were able to save thousands of whales from harpoon ships. However, hundreds of thousands more whales and marine mammals are killed in fishing nets around the world as bycatch by industrial trawlers. An estimated 40% of all fishing activities along the African coastline are illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU). 

Illegal fishing has the capacity to wipe out entire species
The unchecked plundering of Africa’s marine ecosystem – by foreign-owned commercial vessels almost always from the European Union or China – threatens the existence of turtles, dolphins, rays, and sharks because of either bycatch or because they’re actively – and illegally – targeted. 

The film shows Captain Peter Hammerstadt’s reaction to the arrest of the Labiko 2 while still on board. 

“The Labiko 2 had the capacity to wipe out the entire deep sea shark population in Liberia and had it not been for the intervention of the Librarian coastguard assisted by Sea Shepherd it would be deploying these illegal gill nets now”. 

Q&A with Captain Hammarstedt and the Co-Directors of Seaspiracy
After the live premiere of the film, we hosted a 45-minute live Q&A with Captain Hammarstedt and the Co-Directors of Seaspiracy, Ali and Lucy Tabrizi. 

Some of the topics covered include how Sea Shepherd’s campaigns with our African partners address overlapping issues of animal rights, huma rights and environmental protection laws; what happens to an illegal fishing vessel once it’s been arrested; why bycatch is usually underreported, if at all; and how new satellite technology using AI is helping track down some of the worst offenders: 

“Unless a country has the ability to act on that information to bring law enforcement to the scene of the crime, then this information is just reinforcing the picture that there’s a problem going on. Intelligence always has to be actionable, and that’s why our civilian offshore patrol vessel campaigns are critically important because it allows the governments to actually intercept the vessels, to board and inspect them at sea, to find the infringements, and to then bring them back. In short, actually deliver justice.”

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