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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.

Competitions

WIN a Bigblue AL-1300NP Camo Blue Dive Torch!

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For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with Liquid Sports to give away a Bigblue AL-1300NP Camo Dive Torch as a prize!

This Bigblue AL-1300NP Camo Dive Torch delivers 1300 lumens of light powered by Li ion reachable battery. There are 4 levels of brightness with burn times between 2-20 hours. Battery charge level is indicated via coloured lights around the on/off button. The beam angle is 10°. The anodised aluminium alloy housing sealed by double ‘O’ rings with a max operating depth of 100m.

SRP £150.00 which includes torch, charging cradle and battery.

To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, all you have to do is answer the following question:

In a recent post on Scubaverse.com (which you can read here), we reported that Scuba Diving rehabilitation charity Deptherapy has announced a substantial grant from military charity the Veterans’ Foundation. But how much was the grant for?

Was it:

  • A) £5K
  • B) £15K
  • C) £25K

Answer, A, B or C to the question above:

Liquid Sports Bigblue AL-1300NP Camo Blue Dive Torch January 2022

Competition
  • Enter the country you live in
  • Terms and Conditions: This competition is open to all visitors to www.scubaverse.com except for members of the Scubaverse team and their families, or employees of Liquid Sports and their families. A valid answer to the competition’s question must be entered. If no valid answer to the competition’s question is entered, your entry will be invalid. Only one competition entry per entrant permitted (multiple entries will lead to disqualification). Only one prize per winner. All prizes are non-transferable, and no cash alternative will be offered. In the event that the prize cannot be supplied, no liability will be attached to www.scubaverse.com. When prizes are supplied by third parties, www.scubaverse.com is acting as their agents and as such we exclude all liability for loss or damage you may suffer as a result of this competition. This competition closes on 02/03/22. The winner will be notified by email. The Editor-in-Chief’s decision is final.

  • The following fields are optional, however if you fill them in it will help us to determine what prizes to source in the future.

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Emperor Divers now open in new home in Sharm

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A new year, a new diving centre! Emperor Divers is back and fully open in Sharm el Sheikh.

Thousands of divers have dived with Emperor over the years in Sharm but it used to be a surprisingly small – and fairly nomadic – operation! However, last year the Emperor Divers team had the opportunity to take on the best-located dive centre in the whole of Sharm – the historic base in the Marina Sharm Hotel (formerly Helnan Marina Sharm Hotel) on the Southern corner of Na’ama Bay.

Emperor worked closely with the previous – and excellent – owners Werner Lau and Sinai Divers to take on their staff and add another chapter to this famous centre.

The diving centre has direct access to Na’ama Bay as its housereef, and the jetty many of you will have used before to board their boats Shorouk and Marcus is a two-minute walk away.

Now Ali, Elise and the team are already welcoming divers back to the warm, clear pristine reefs of Sharm, Tiran and Ras Mohamed – regarded by many as the best daily diving in the whole Red Sea.

Flights are regular from the UK and Europe and there are scores of hotels of every standard available within walking distance to the centre or further afield if you prefer.

This is a hugely exciting step for Emperor Divers in a fantastic location – as their Red Sea General Manager Luke Atkinson explained:

“Sharm el Sheikh got a reputation for astonishing diving because of the quality and variety on offer. Each single distinct area – whether Tiran, the coastal reefs of Sharm or the walls of Ras Mohamed – would be enough to call a destination ‘amazing’. To have all three in one destination is simply sensational.

It’s hard to pick highlights in a destination so blessed with quality diving, but The SS Thistlegorm is an underwater museum and widely regarded as one of the best wrecks in the world. The fish schooling event of Ras Mohamed in summer is truly world class, with walls of snapper, barracuda, batfish and many other species as they choose this one special area to mate.”

Find out more or book at www.emperordivers.com

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Competitions

A very popular liveaboard, Emperor Superior offers fantastic diving in comfortable surroundings. Her experienced crew make this one of the best for divers in the Red Sea.

WAS £1155pp / NOW from just £895 per person based on sharing a twin cabin including:

  • Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 25kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox
  • Airport transfers

Booking deadline: Subject to availability. Limited spaces available.

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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