Victory! Killer in the oceans finally caught
Stella Logan | August 2017
A campaign launched by Sea Shepherd Global in 2016 has successfully terminated the operations of an illegal fleet of six fishing vessels.
"Operation Driftnet" commenced when the crew of the Steve Irwin, part of our fleet, discovered one of six Chinese ships fishing illegally using drift nets in the Indian Ocean. Drift nets can span for kilometres, wreaking havoc on aquatic environments by indiscriminately trapping a wide spectrum of sea life and killing millions of animals each year, including fish, dolphins, whales, sharks, seals, turtles and seabirds. These animals usually drown or die from capture-related injuries, even if they are jettisoned back into the ocean. The destructiveness of drift nets reinforces why they were banned in 1992.
Upon detecting the Steve Irwin, the Chinese vessel attempted to flee, discarding its drift nets and illegal equipment overboard in the process in order to destroy evidence. The Steve Irwin pursued the ship for weeks, and was able to retrieve a section of the discarded drift net, which alone had trapped and killed 321 dead animals of 12 different species.
The chase involved a near collision when the Chinese boat recklessly attempted to veer into the Steve Irwin, passing just metres in front of it.
After several failed aggressive attempts to shake the Steve Irwin off its trail, the constant presence of the Steve Irwin finally took its toll, and it entered a port under the jurisdiction of the Chinese government. Sea Shepherd reported its location, providing authorities with an immediate opportunity to arrest and investigate the ship.
Thanks to their efforts of exposing and confronting the illegal fishers, the Chinese government has now suspended the fishing licences of all the vessels owned by the company, revoked the captains’ Masters certifications permanently, and fined each vessel the equivalent of nearly $400,000 Australian dollars.
"These are severe penalties and the actions of the Chinese government clearly illustrate that they view fisheries crime very seriously," says Siddharth Chakravarty, campaign leader and captain of the Steve Irwin. "Sea Shepherd would like to thank the Chinese government for their cooperation with the investigation and we appreciate the recognition of the success by the government of China."
Once again, Sea Shepherd has been instrumental in coordinating international efforts to tackle crimes on our oceans and its inhabitants. The success of Operation Driftnet means that approximately 100,000 sharks and an equal number of animals of other species have been saved from a needless death. This is a huge victory in the fight against animal slaughter.
View more information on Operation Driftnet including photos and videos documented during the campaign.
Sea Shepherd is committed to defending marine wildlife and needs your help to continue its work on the high seas. If you support marine animals being treated with respect and allowed to live their lives in peace, please help by making a donation. All proceeds help support its conservation and enforcement efforts, and makes success possible.