Global nonprofit marine conservation organization Sea Shepherd is pleading the Yemeni government to detain, investigate, and prosecute a vessel suspected to be involved in toothfish poaching in the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) convention area.
Sea Shepherd said the suspected poacher, Cobija, “was listed as anchored in the Port of Mukalla in the Republic of Yemen through the Yemen Arabian Sea Port Corporation website.”
The vessel, which was formerly named Cape Flower, “is an internationally-blacklisted fishing vessel that was added to the South East Atlantic Fisheries Organization’s illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) blacklist in 2017.”
“Since then, it is suspected to have conducted IUU fishing for toothfish in the Commission for the CCAMLR convention area,” the statement said.
Sea Shepherd suspects the Cobija, which claims to be flagged to Bolivia, “is believed to be stateless and any registration documents would therefore be forgeries.”
Sea Shepherd further suspects the Cobija could have toothfish on board, with the beneficial owner presumed to be based in the Galicia region of Spain, “based on the usual practice of other toothfish poachers.”
According to Sea Shepherd Director of Campaigns Peter Hammarstedt, “crimes ranging from illegal fishing to forgery are part of the modus operandi of these toothfish poachers.”
CCAMLR has listed on its website a raft of measures to tackle the threat of IUU fishing such as vessel licensing, monitoring of vessel movements, monitoring of vessel transshipments, the system of inspection, the vessel monitoring system, and the catch documentation scheme.
Through its Operation Icefish, Sea Shepherd took action that led to the arrest and detention of at least three toothfish poachers between 2014 and 2018.
Photo courtesy of Sea Shepherd