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Illegal Chilean Sea Bass Fishing Could Be Coming to an End, Thanks to Sea Shepherd

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Sea Shepherd’s hunting of poaching vessels in the remote Southern Ocean is not as well known as its efforts to stop Japanese whale hunters, but for one species it’s a lifesaver.

The deep-sea-dwelling Patagonian toothfish that inhabits the region has been a lucrative target for illegal fishing. Six vessels, which Sea Shepherd has dubbed the Bandit 6, have been raking in big bucks skirting international fishing regulations. The ships are capable of catching more than $1 million worth of toothfish—popularly known as Chilean sea bass—before returning to port.

The boats have operated mostly unencumbered in the remote expanse of the Southern Ocean, often avoiding capture by flying under “flags of convenience” that hide the vessel’s ownership and make prosecution difficult. The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources has put the ships on its blacklist.

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“What made them stand out was their brazen return to Antarctica, year after year, in spite of being repeatedly spotted by customs vessels and other legal operators,” Sid Chakravarty, captain of the Sea Shepherd vessel Steve Irwin, said. “We realized that the vessels were deliberately exploiting the loopholes in international law and acting with a purpose, fully aware of the immunity they enjoyed.”

But thanks in part to Sea Shepherd’s two-year-long “Operation Icefish” campaign, only one vessel of the Bandit 6 is still in operation. Officials in Senegal on Tuesday detained the Kunlun, a toothfish-poaching vessel Sea Shepherd has been pursuing for more than a year.

In February 2015, Chakravarty, who was then captain of the Sea Shepherd’s vessel San Simon, chased the Kunlun for eight days out of Australian fishing waters. The boat was fishing with illegal gill nets that drag along the seabed, capturing and killing fish indiscriminately.

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“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,” Chakravarty said. “The work done by Sea Shepherd completes and at times fills the gaps in the work of governments, which are restricted by outdated legal conventions.”

The capture of the Kunlun leaves the poaching vessel the Viking as the lone bandit on the high seas.

According to Sea Shepherd, the Viking is suspected to be fishing in Antarctica, once again using banned gill nets in the region. Chakravarty and the crew of the Steve Irwin are searching for the Viking.

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“Once the vessel is located, the role of the [Sea Shepherd] is twofold,” Chakravarty said. “One, to afford immediate protection to marine wildlife by blockading the illegal operations of the Viking and two, to embark on a pursuit of the vessel and work with international law enforcement agencies to ensure the vessel is detained upon arrival in port. Using the evidence collected, Sea Shepherd’s aim is to aid and assist ongoing investigations with regards to the Viking.”

That plan worked in 2014, when Sea Shepherd Capt. Peter Hammarstedt and the crew aboard the 788-ton Bob Barker embarked on a 110-day, 10,000-nautical-mile ocean pursuit of the Nigerian-flagged boat Thunder, which was illegally fishing in the Southern Ocean.

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The Thunder, considered the most notorious poaching vessel among the Bandit 6, ended up sinking at sea, with the crew and captain rescued by Sea Shepherd. In October 2015, the Thunder’s captain and two senior crew members were found guilty of multiple charges of illegal fishing, given 32 to 36 months of jail time and fined more than $17 million by a court in São Tomé and Príncipe—an island nation that lies off the west coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea.

“The aim of this mission is to locate [the Viking] and replicate the successes of the previous missions and to deliver a final blow to the illicit toothfish trade,” Chakravarty said.

Source: www.ecowatch.com

Competitions

WIN a Beuchat Air Light Bag!!!

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For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Beuchat to give away an Air Light Bag!

The Air Light Bag from Beuchat is a practical travel bag that takes up minimum storage space.

  • Material: 600 denier and 1,000 denier nylon/PVC
  • Soft roller bag, easily stored in its mesh bag
  • Internal retaining straps
  • Zip fastener with eyelets for padlocks
  • Side compartment for fins
  • Outer document pocket with coated zip and carry strap
  • Backpack style straps concealed behind the foam back-plate
  • Drainage vents
  • Red over-moulded wheels; detachable wheel block

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 the Philippines have been recognised as the World’s Leading Dive Destination at the 27th World Travel Awards. In the article it states how many islands make up the Philippines… how many are there?

Is there:

  • A) 7,209
  • B) 7,532
  • C) 7,641

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

Beuchat Air Light Bag December 2020

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 Beuchat 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 13/01/21. 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.

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
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Gear News

Quick Scuba Tips #1: How To Prep A New Mask for Scuba Diving (Watch Video)

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How To Prep A New Mask for Scuba Diving. Can’t I just take my new mask diving straight out of the box? Well, actually, no. It needs a little work to make it dive ready.

In this, the first in our new scuba diving quick hints and tips series, I’m going to show you how to prepare a new mask for scuba diving with three quick techniques, all aimed at stopping your scuba mask from fogging.

Yes, this link is an affiliate link. Purchases made through these links may earn me a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Dive safe, dive often!

James


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