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Escaped toothfish-poaching vessel ‘Kunlun’ netted in Senegal

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Five of the Bandit Six are are down – only the VIKING remains. The KUNLUN that escaped last year from Thailand has been arrested in Senegal. Sea Shepherd’s Operation Icefish chased the THUNDER for 110 days until her captain scuttled his own ship in an attempt to destroy the evidence. Sea Shepherd boarded the sinking ship and seized the evidence to send the Captain and two of his officers to prison in Sao Tome. Sea Shepherd efforts contributed to the arrest of five of the six. Sea Shepherd will continue to hunt for the VIKING.

The following was published in the Phuket Gazette on February 9:

Authorities in Senegal have detained the internationally wanted toothfish-poaching vessel Kunlun, which slipped through the fingers of Phuket authorities after having been seized in March last year.

Reports allege that the illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing vessel had previously falsified its registry, claiming Indonesia as its flag state. This allowed the vessel to be detained in Senegal on formalities regarding its certification and flag status.

The ship, which had recently changed its name from Kunlun to Taishan, was apprehended in Phuket after it falsely reported offloading 182 tonnes of illegally caught Patagonian toothfish, valued at 179 million baht, as 182 tonnes of grouper, valued at just 15mn baht. However, after months of detention, the ship was able to flee the port it was moored at in Phuket.

“Finding a vessel such as the Kunlun, once it had escaped, was like finding a needle in a haystack. Even with modern satellite technology and intelligence sharing, there remain enough avenues for such repeat offenders to disappear,” said Captain Siddharth Chakravarty of the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin.

“Thailand took the first step and that was to arrest the vessel, detain her in port and aid the investigations into its operations.”

Three Phuket Customs officials were transferred out of the province following the ship’s escape in September last year.

“The Phuket Customs chief and two other officers were transferred to Bangkok,” explained Charoen Chamniklang from the Thai Customs Investigation and Suppression Bureau. “They allowed the ship to refuel, as it needed to keep all 182 tons of toothfish on board frozen. Once completely refueled, the Kunlun managed to escape.”

Other than levying a fine for falsely reporting the toothfish as grouper, officials had no authority to keep their cargo, explained Mr Charoen.

“The ship had already been through all the legal formalities at the Customs Office. However, the Phuket Marine Office was still investigating it for issues with its registration,” Mr Charoen explained.

Since escaping Phuket, there have been concerns that the vessel would be offloading its catch and returning to Antarctica. However, with its detention in Senegal, it is confirmed that the Kunlun, renamed Asian Warrior, did not return to the Southern Ocean after it was pursued by the Sea Shepherd ship Sam Simon last February.

“In previous years, illegal vessels would simply change their names and flags at will and use international loopholes and the lack of international cooperation to survive and remain in operation,” said Capt Chakravarty. “It is incredibly satisfying to know that the Kunlun, which was chased out of the Southern Ocean by my vessel in February 2015, has been unable to resume its illegal fishing operations.”

Out of the six known toothfish-poaching vessels, which Sea Shepherd calls the ‘Bandit 6’, five are now out of action. Only one, the Viking, remains at large.

Sea Shepherd’s flagship, Steve Irwin, will now continue to target the Viking as part of its current Southern Ocean Defence Campaign, Operation Icefish 2015-16.

“A continued strong commitment by state authorities across the world, heralded by the actions of Interpol’s Project Scale, has ensured that another toothfish poacher has been detained. International cooperation, spearheaded by two Southern Ocean campaigns by Sea Shepherd, has broken the back of the organized crime syndicates operating these vessels,” said Capt Chakravarty. “Cooperation between entities is a must in the work to be done to tackle IUU fishing.”

The Sea Shepherd crew will employ direct-action techniques to fill a law enforcement void that continues to be exploited by the remaining illegal toothfishing vessels, the group explained.

Despite the commitment shown by Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand to prevent operators of ships such as the Kunlun from illegally using their ports, Capt Chakravarty was unable to rule out that Southeast Asia would not be revisited by toothfish poachers when it came to unloading their cargo.

“The applicability of international fishing violations remains limited in these countries,” said Capt Chakravarty.

“The oceans are in peril and our actions remain the only proactive and definite policing measures to tackle illegality. We intend to embrace the responsibility with courage and fortitude, and once again locate, investigate and shut down the most notorious poachers on this planet.”

In addition to being one of the co-founders of Greenpeace in 1972 and Greenpeace International in 1979, Paul Watson is the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society - an organization dedicated to research, investigation and enforcement of laws, treaties, resolutions and regulations established to protect marine wildlife worldwide.

Gear News

SCUBAPRO CARES – Step by step for the protection of our oceans

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For over 50 years Scubapro has been committed to diving and marine conservation. From optimising materials and manufacturing techniques to sponsoring conservation organisations and the work of the Deep Elite Ambassadors, Scubapro is committed to helping preserve the oceans.

The goal is to create awareness for the oceans and encourage divers to get involved in environmental protection. Scubapro has partnerships with Mission Blue, Galapagos National Parks, Conservation International, WWF, Antinea Foundation, San Diego Oceans Foundation, REEF, National Marine Life Center, Sharkproject, SOS Sea Turtles, Ozeankind, Yaqu Pacha and many more.

SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTS

Scubapro divewear is the greenest – or bluest – in the industry. In 2012, Scubapro was the first manufacturer to use X-Foam neoprene. In 2017, again as the first manufacturer, the solvent-free Aqua Alpha glue followed in Everflex suits. Today, all Scubapro dry suits, wetsuits, shortys, hoods and gloves thicker than 1.5 mm are made with this solvent-free glue. In addition, the standards for neoprene include the use of only environmentally beneficial doped-dyed yarns, carbon black components from recycled tyres and 100% petroleum-free limestone

“Scubapro was one of the first brands to stop using petroleum-based neoprene and to start using neoprene that was gained from Limestone instead. By developing the Everflex 3/2mm no zip, we have tried to produce a natural-based neoprene suit. We have also used solvent free glue for the fabric production and suit assembly which complies to REACH regulations for pollutant free production processes. Having had the chance to spend time with the workers on the production chain, I can tell that this is a serious milestone for ensuring their health and developing an eco-friendlier level of neoprene.”

– Nicolas Vincent, Scubapro product manager Dive Wear & Bags 

RESPONSIBLE PACKAGING

As part of its Responsible Packaging program, Scubapro is gradually reducing the use of plastic packaging. Some measures that have already been implemented: 

  • Recycled cardboard boxes or protective containers for masks that can be used sustainably for transport and storage of accessories.
  • Boots in fabric bags that can be used for transport and storage as well as a wash or shoe bag.
  • Headbands, neoprene mask straps, gloves and other accessories are delivered on recycled label cards as packaging.
  • Regulators, computers, and regulator maintenance kits are shipped in cardboard packaging without plastic.
  • Fins in recycled cardboard boxes or in mesh bags that can be used for transport and storage or as bags for marine debris when diving.

The complete elimination of plastic and the reduction of total packaging are the goals of the Responsible Packaging program. Innovative packaging solutions for more products will be introduced
in the near future.

Further information: www.scubapro.eu/scubapro-cares

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Marine Life & Conservation

The IMPERFECT Conservationist, Episode #4: Think Like an IMPERFECT Conservationist – Why ‘imperfect’ is important (Watch Video)

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Why does “Imperfect” matter when it comes to conservation? In this video I explain how being imperfect is important especially when it comes to conservation. This is a view into the mindset of being an Imperfect Conservationist.

This is “The IMPERFECT Conservationist” – Episode #4, a between the scenes Special Edition. In this series I take the big concepts of conservation and break them down into easily digestible bite-size pieces that can be applied to everyday busy life. In each video you will get your dose of “Conservation Empowerment” with ways to THINK like an IMPERFECT Conservationist and EASY – AFFORDABLE – IMPACTFUL conservation action that fits into your life. We can’t do it all, or do it perfectly but when it comes to being part of the solution, we can always do something! Be inspired, inspire others, do something good. Don’t forget to hit that subscribe button, and the bell so you know when my new videos post! More on my website and social channels too.

Subscribe HERE for weekly episodes of The Imperfect Conservationist!


Find out more at www.mehganheaneygrier.com

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

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This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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