Liberian Coast Guard, in cooperation with Sea Shepherd Global, arrested a St Kitts and Nevis-flagged trawler for fisheries crimes, including fish smuggling and violations of tax and customs laws.
Liberian Coast Guard, assisted by the Sea Shepherd vessel M/Y Sam Simon, boarded he 56.11meter trawler ‘F/V Dzintars’ on the 28th of September, following the vessel’s shut down of Automatic Identification System (AIS) before crossing from neighborring Sierra Leone into Liberian water.
After checking the vessel’s paperwork, the boarding team concluded that the crew had not declared their catch upon entering Liberian waters, which is a violation of Liberia’s “Catch On Entry” regulations.
Furthermore, ‘F/V Dzintars’ didn’t have a landing declaration or the proper Liberian Import Permit for Fish and Fish Products as required under Liberian law to discharge the catch in Monrovia, the vessel’s next declared port.
Additionally, a wild monkey was also found on board in the fish processing plant, for which there was no paperwork provided.
These facts, in addition to the Master having turned off the AIS before entering Liberian waters on purpose, the F/V Dzintars was arrested and the trawler was detained at the Liberian Coast Guard base in the Port of Monrovia.
This arrest is part of the operation ‘Sola Stella’. During the campaign five vessels have been arrested for unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing earlier this year, including a Nigerian-shrimping trawler certified to export “sustainably-caught” shrimp into the European Union and a refrigerated cargo vessel of identity fraud and planning to offload 460 tons of undocumented fish cargo in the Port of Monrovia.
“For the past four weeks, the marine conservation organization Sea Shepherd has been secretly patrolling the waters of the Republic of Liberia in West Africa in a covert operation under the coordination of the Honorable Minister Brownie Samukai. Sea Shepherd’s vessel the MY Sam Simon is patrolling Liberia’s coastline with 19 crew under Captain Bart Schulting, ten Liberian Coast Guard sailors with the authority to board, inspect and arrest ships suspected of violating Liberian law, and two Israeli maritime advisors and conservationists providing training assistance,” Sea Shepherd stated.
IUU fishing targets developing countries in particular. ‘Sola Stella’ aims to help Liberia tackle this problem and protect the six nautical miles closest to shore reserved for subsistence, artisanal and semi-artisanal fishing, which employs 33,000 Liberians, Sea Shepherd concluded.