Trawler Arrested, Minister of Fisheries in Gabon Cracks Down on Illegal Fishing

Thursday, 02 Sep, 2021

On the 26th of August, Sea Shepherd crew assisted an investigations team led by Gabonese law enforcement agents—and accompanied by Gabon’s Minister of Fisheries–as they boarded a shrimp trawler fishing northeast of Libreville, the capital of the Central African country.

Alarming ration of shrimp catch to fish bycatch.

Gabonese fisheries inspectors uncovered that the trawler Renovation 2 was using undersized mesh which prevents juvenile fish from escaping capture. 

“Not only was the vessel using the wrong mesh size, but the ratio of catch to bycatch was startling. While I was on the deck of the trawler, I saw just a few small trays of shrimp balancing atop a mountain of fish, many of which were undersized”, said the Honorable Biendi Maganga-Moussavou, Gabon’s Minister of Fisheries.  

Bycatch refers to the non-target species caught by a fishing vessel.  

Minister Biendi Maganga-Moussavou with Captain Peter Hammarstedt.

On most shrimp trawlers, for every pound of shrimp caught, at least six pounds of bycatch are also captured, including sea turtles, sharks and other vulnerable species.  In the case of Renovation 2, the ratio of catch to bycatch was estimated at 0.2% shrimp to 99.8% by weight. Most of the latter was thrown overboard dead.  

Gabonese fisheries inspectors examine Renovation 2 paperwork.

“For just a few shrimp cocktails, thousands of other creatures were discarded overboard"

Captain Peter Hammarstedt, Sea Shepherd’s Director of Campaigns

Renovation 2 was placed under arrest and ordered to proceed to Port Gentil, Gabon for further investigation. 

Minister Biendi Maganga-Moussavou with the Renovation 2

“It was important for me to see firsthand, the impact of the shrimp fishery off Gabon’s coast”, said Minister Maganga-Moussavou. “These wasteful practices cannot be tolerated in Gabon. I have commissioned an official inquiry into the shrimp fishery and pending the outcome of the investigation, I am prepared to suspend the fishing season until a solution can be found to the bycatch problem”. 

For three days, Minister Maganga-Moussavou, joined Gabonese fisheries inspectors, national park eco-guards, Navy sailors and Sea Shepherd crew on board the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker for at-sea patrols. 

Juvenile fish caught in net. Scroll to see more images.
Gabonese Navy sailor on board Renovation 2.
Minister Biendi Maganga-Moussavou surrounded by bycatch.
Dead fish being shoveled overboard.
Dead fishing being dumped overboard.
Alarming ratio of shrimp catch to fish bycatch.
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