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Another Two Trawlers Arrested in The Gambia

Wednesday, Dec 09, 2020

Less than a month after the arrest of four trawlers for offenses ranging from fishing inside a protected area to fishing with the wrong mesh size, Gambian law enforcement agents working on board the Sea Shepherd ship Sam Simon apprehended another two trawlers.  

The Jurong Yu 9 fishing vessel. Photo by Pilar Malo/Sea Shepherd.

On the 15th of November, the Chinese-flagged Jurong Yu 9 was detained after fisheries inspectors, who discovered fishing log book irregularities, noticed that the vessel was exhibiting different names—also known as ship markings–on its bow and stern. The markings on the bow were also faded and difficult to read from a distance.  

Sea Shepherd and Gambian law enforcement approach the 'Jurong Yu 9’. Photo by Pilar Malo/Sea Shepherd.

“Not showing proper markings on a vessel is a way of obscuring the identity of the ship, thereby making identification difficult for inspectors. This is the sea-based equivalent of driving with falsified license plates.”

Mar Casariego, captain of Sam Simon
Fish lie on the deck of the 'Jurong Yu 9’. Photo by Pilar Malo/Sea Shepherd.

Three days later, the fishing vessel Coyah, a 47.25-meter-long trawler flagged to Guinea-Conakry, was detected by radar fishing less than 12 nautical miles of the coast of The Gambia, a violation of its licensing conditions due to its large size. On boarding, the captain of the trawler admitted that the vessel was actively fishing during the time that they were documented more than two miles inside their delimitation zone.   

Gambian law enforcement inspects documents on the bridge of the 'Jurong Yu 9’. Photo by Pilar Malo/Sea Shepherd.

Both Jurong Yu 9 and Coyah were arrested and escorted to the Gambian port of Banjul. The arrest of the two trawlers, are the fifth and sixth arrests of the latest patrols of Operation Gambian Coastal Defense, a partnership between Sea Shepherd and the government of The Gambia, led by the Honorable James Furmos Peter Gomez, Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources. Twenty-two vessels have been arrested on Operation Gambian Costal Defense since the start of the collaboration in 2019. 

The ‘MV Coyah’ with its nets in the water. Photo by Pilar Malo/Sea Shepherd.

Since 2016, Sea Shepherd has been working in partnership with the governments of Gabon, Liberia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Tanzania, Benin, Namibia and The Gambia to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing 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 60 vessels for illegal fishing and other fisheries crimes.

Read more about our campaigns against IUU fishing here 

Crew of the the ‘MV Coyah’ under arrest next to Gambian law enforcement. Photo by Pilar Malo/Sea Shepherd.
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