Trawler Arrested in Protected Waters Off Benin

Monday, 09 Nov, 2020

On the 29th of October, armed Benin Navy sailors raided an industrial trawler in the Port of Cotonou, placing it under arrest after it was busted fishing illegally in the waters of Benin, a country in West Africa. 

Benin Navy in Bob Barker small boat with Fada 18. Photo by Tara Lambourne/Sea Shepherd.

Some nights earlier, Sea Shepherd crew on board the Sea Shepherd vessel Bob Barker assisted Beninese authorities in documenting the fishing vessel Fada 18 as it fished inside a special management area reserved for local artisanal fishermen that extends up to five nautical miles from the coast of Benin.  

Fada 18 fishing in protected area. Photo by Alice Gregoire/Sea Shepherd.

Fada 18 was caught fishing just outside the Bouche du Roy ecological reserve. The reserve consists of mangroves and lagoons critical to fish nurseries. It’s part of the UNESCO-listed Mono Biosphere Reserve, home to nearly two million people in Benin and Togo, and particularly rich in biodiversity as it’s positioned in a wildlife corridor frequented by migrating tuna and humpback whales. 

Benin Navy prepare to board Fada 18. Photo by Tara Lambourne/Sea Shepherd.

The Bouche du Roy ecological reserve protects several IUCN red-listed endangered species.  

Almost one year ago, Sea Shepherd assisted Beninese authorities with the arrest of four trawlers in the same area. Three of those trawlers were intercepted inside the protected waters of the ecological reserve. 

Benin Navy on board Fada 18. Photo by Tara Lambourne/Sea Shepherd.

The successful arrest of Fada 18 marks the continuation of joint at-sea patrols between the Benin Navy and Sea Shepherd under the leadership of Maxime Ahoyo, the Maritime Commissioner of Benin.  

“As governments around the world cut back on fisheries monitoring and control programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government of Benin is continuing its patrols at sea and the Maritime Commissioner is ramping up his efforts to combat illegal fishing.”

Julian McGale, captain of the Bob Barker.
Benin Navy on board Fada 18. Photo by Tara Lambourne/Sea Shepherd.

In 2019, the government of Benin partnered with Sea Shepherd for Operation Guegou (local Wxla language for “Big Tuna”) to tackle fisheries crime in the Gulf of Guinea, with Sea Shepherd crew and local non-governmental organization (NGO) Eco-Benin supporting law enforcement agents on board the Bob Barker to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.   

Benin Navy on board Fada 18. Photo by Tara Lambourne/Sea Shepherd.

Sea Shepherd’s partnership with Benin marked the fourth government in the Gulf of Guinea to join a growing effort to stop IUU fishing in the region through joint at-sea patrols with Sea Shepherd. 

Since 2016, Sea Shepherd has also been working in partnership with the governments of Gabon, Liberia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Tanzania, Namibia and The Gambia to combat fisheries crime by providing the use of civilian offshore patrol vessels to African coastal and island States so that authorities can enforce fisheries regulations and conservation laws in their sovereign waters. To date, the unique partnerships have resulted in the arrest of 55 vessels for illegal fishing and other fisheries crimes.  

Learn more about Sea Shepherd's campaigns against IUU fishing here

Benin Navy on board Fada 18. Photo by Tara Lambourne/Sea Shepherd.
Benin Navy approach Fada 18 on Bob Barker small boat. Photo by Tara Lambourne/Sea Shepherd.
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