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Sea Shepherd Hands-Over Evidence of Thunder’s Illegal Fishing to Authorities in Mauritius

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Sea Shepherd

The Sea Shepherd ship, Sam Simon, has handed-over evidence to authorities at Port Louis, Mauritius, of the illegal fishing activities of the Nigerian-flagged poaching vessel Thunder.

The Thunder is the most notorious of the six remaining toothfish poaching vessels that are known to still engage in Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing for toothfish in the Southern Ocean. In December 2013, the Thunder was issued with an Interpol purple notice for suspected illegal fishing activity, following a joint effort by New Zealand, Australian and Norwegian authorities.

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The Sam Simon docked in Port Louis, Mauritius. Photo: Giacomo Giorgi

For the past two months, Captain of the Sam Simon, Sid Chakravarty, has reported to authorities, including international policing agency Interpol, about the confiscation of the Thunder’s illegally-set gillnets. Authorities were also notified that the Sea Shepherd ship would be arriving in Mauritius to hand-over the gillnets as evidence to aid in the prosecution of the Thunder.

Upon docking in Port Louis, the Sam Simon was met by various Mauritian law enforcement agencies comprising of the Mauritius Police Force, the Coast Guard and the Fisheries Policing Agency.

Through the course of the day, the authorities conducted a rigorous inspection of the confiscated gear and met with Captain Chakravarty to establish a chain of custody for the gear being handed over as evidence.

Captain Chakravarty said: “It is evident from the proceedings that Interpol has issued a request to the Mauritian authorities to help in the investigation to prosecute the Thunder. The thorough and professional approach of the Mauritian authorities proves that local and international law enforcement authorities are taking the crimes of the Thunder seriously.”

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Capt. Chakravarty and the crew of the Sam Simon hand-over confiscated gillnets to police in Mauritius. Photo: Jeff Wirth

He further added: “The Mauritian authorities have in one day done more to combat illegal fishing than the Australian government has done this entire season. It is definitely a wake-up call for Australia to dispatch a patrol vessel to clean out their Antarctic waters.”

The toothfish poaching vessels are the target of Sea Shepherd’s 11th Southern Ocean Defence Campaign,Operation Icefish.

Since the commencement of Operation Icefish in December last year, the Sam Simon and fellow Sea Shepherd ship, the Bob Barker, have intercepted three of the six remaining outlaw vessels. In doing so, Sea Shepherd has saved the lives of countless marine creatures and has caused major disruptions to the profits of illegal fishing operators in Antarctica.

Captain of the Bob Barker, Peter Hammarstedt, said: “Let it be known, we are here for the long haul. With Sam Simon handing over evidence of the Thunder’s criminal operations to police in Mauritius, the Bob Barker is committed to escorting the Thunder to its next port and into the hands of the authorities. The interest shing the attention it deserves.”

The Bob Barker intercepted the Thunder on December 17, 2014, on the Banzare Bank in Antarctica. The Thunder immediately fled from the Sea Shepherd ship, leaving behind thousands of metres of illegal fishing gear in the Southern Ocean.

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Just some of the 72 km of the Thunder’s illegal gillnet that was confiscated by the Sam Simon. Photo: Jeff Wirth

Through poor weather and in the face of hostile actions by the poachers, the Bob Barker has maintained pursuit of the Thunder. The Sea Shepherd ship now enters day 71 of what has become a record-breaking, continuous chase of the poaching vessel.

On December 25 2014, the Sam Simon commenced retrieval operations to remove the illegal fishing gear abandoned by the Thunder. More than 72 kilometres of illegal gillnet was recovered over a three week period and over 1,400 fish, weighing a total of 45,000 kilograms, were returned to the ocean.

On February 2 2015, the Sam Simon intercepted another two poaching vessels, the Kunlun and the Yongding, in Australian waters in the Southern Ocean. The Sam Simon subsequently engaged in a pursuit of the Kunlun, chasing the poaching vessel out of its hunting grounds in the Southern Ocean.

Operation Icefish is Sea Shepherd’s first Southern Ocean Defence Campaign to target IUU fishing operators in the waters of Antarctica.

For more information about Sea Shepherd, visit www.seashepherd.org.

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Frontline workers honoured with free dive trip to Yap

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The remote island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia is among the few places in the world that remains free of Covid-19 thanks to its ocean border and a strict travel ban that has kept its residents safe.

Nonetheless, Yap has been affected, too. As one of the world’s premier, award-winning destinations for divers, this paradisiacal location in the western Pacific Ocean has had no outside visitors to its rich shores and reef for nearly a year. But while there may be no virus, the island hasn’t been cut off from the economic impact experienced around the globe.

Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers by A. Tareg

That didn’t stop Bill Acker, CEO and founder of the Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers, from doing something, though.

Last March, soon after the island went into lockdown, Bill began to realize the effect of the virus on daily life beyond the island. “Yes, we are closed, have no divers, had to send our employees home and prepare for difficult times,” he said. “But we’re lucky in that we have, for the most part, avoided the human suffering and death this pandemic has caused.”

Thinking about the problems faced by his family business, they paled when he compared them to those endured by the healthcare workers who have been fighting selflessly around the clock for months on end for the well-being and lives of others.

“One evening, while checking the news online, I saw pictures of frontline workers who were tending to desperately ill and dying people when families and friends could not be with their loved ones. It was heartbreaking,” he added.

The next day, a meeting was held with the resort’s staff and Bill invited suggestions for ways they could do something to honor healthcare workers. The result was the idea to award twenty divers who are working on the frontline to save other’s lives during this pandemic while risking their own, with a free week at the resort.

Manta ray, Manta birostris, gliding over a cleaning station in M’il Channel, Yap, Micronesia by David Fleetham

Divers around the world who had been guests at Manta Ray Bay in the past were invited to submit the names of candidates for the award by December 31, 2020. “We received nominations for 126 individuals from as far away as Germany, the U.S., Australia and Canada,” he said. “It was not easy choosing the winners but our committee of staff members took on the job and selected the 20 finalists.”

“While trying to choose the people to reward for their hard work during this Covid-19 crisis,” Bill added, “by reading the nominations we saw that every one of the nominees was doing things above and beyond the call of duty. Sadly, we don’t have the finances to offer over 100 free weeks in Yap, but we do want to recognize the contributions all of them are making to our world. So, we are offering the rest of the nominees a free week of diving in Yap which includes room, hotel tax, airport transfers, breakfast, diving and Wi-Fi.  The only requirement is that they travel with at least three other people and stay in two rooms or more.”

“We do not yet know when Yap will open its borders,” said Bill, “but when it does, we will welcome these important guests to Yap to relax and dive with the manta rays and the other beautiful denizens of the ocean surrounding our island home. They are the true heroes of this devastating, historic time and we look forward to honoring them with a well-deserved dive vacation.”

Watch out for our exclusive trip report from a healthcare worker from the UK who is one of the 20 to have been awarded this amazing dive trip!

For more information on Manta Ray Bay and Yap Divers visit their website by clicking here.

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Dive Training Blogs

Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)

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It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker

This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!

The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!

But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress! 

Thanks for watching, Team!

James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk to book your spot!

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