Illegal fleet caught in a dawn raid
Co-operation between environmental group Sea Shepherd and the East Timor National Police has resulted in raid on a fleet of Chinese fishing vessels.
Sea Shepherd had already tracked the fleet of vessels fishing with demersal netting gear more than a hundred nautical miles south of East Timor, linking the fleet to the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 mothership that was arrested in the Galapagos islands last month with several hundred tonnes of shark on board.
Working with East Timor National Police (PNTL - Policia Nacionale Timor-Leste), Sea Shepherdâ€™s fast boat delivered police officers to the fishing vessels anchored off East Timor in a dawn raid.
Once the vessels were secured by the PNTL, documenting the catches on board them confirmed suspicions that the fleet have been targeting sharks as opposed to broad scale fishing.
According to Sea Shepherd, Hong Long Fisheries owns the 15 vessels operating in East Timor, although Pingtan Marine Enterprises, listed on the US Nasdaq, have announced to their shareholders that they also own the 15 vessels and licenses operating in East Timor.
Sea Shepherd also identified a second group of three vessels owned by Hong Dong Pelagic Fisheries fishing illegally in the same area. Although they had a license granted by East Timor, they were found deploying more than 2x10km of driftnet from each vessel, significantly more than the 2.5km maximum allowance set by international law.
The Chinese government has been taking an increasingly tough line on IUU fishing and has cracked down hard recently on companies and vessels found to be operating illegally.
â€˜We hope that China will take the same stern action with these illegal vessels,â€™ said Gary Stokes of Sea Shepherd.
Source: Sea Shepherd
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