Authorities Capture Fishing Ship That Contained 18 Miles Of Illegal Gillnets

Gillnets make it virtually impossible for any animal to escape. Via: SFA

A recent capture of an illegal fishing ship resulting in the finding of 18 miles of illegal gillnets. Gillnetting, which uses walls of finely meshed nets, has been banned in Antarctic waters since 2006 and poses a risk to almost all marine life.

The boat was detained in Indonesia after evading capture from a number of countries in the Southern Ocean. According to the Fishing Ministry, the vessel, the STS-50, had targeted Antarctic toothfish, a cod species that plays an important role in the Southern Ocean ecosystem.

The vessel was using up to 600 gillnets, which are extremely destructive as the holes in the netting are so small, barely anything can escape it. In addition to the 600 illegal gillnets, police also discovered eight different flags on board that the ship used to confuse authrorities, including those from Sierra Leone, Togo, South Korea, Japan, and Namibia. The ship has also change its name at least six times.

Interpol contacted Indonesia last week with a request to investigate the vessel, Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said in the statement.

“Navy ship Simeuleu conducted a ‘stop, investigate and detain’ operation on Friday and successfully seized the vessel,” Pudjiastuti said.

The vessel had earlier been detained by China but had escaped and was later detained in the port of Maputo in Mozambique before fleeing again, Pudjiastuti said.

According to Reuters, it is not immediately clear what would happen to the crew.

Fishing for toothfish is governed under the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, which forbids gillnet fishing and imposes strict rules on catches.

Indonesia has destroyed hundreds of foreign illegal fishing boats since 2014 in an effort to protect domestic fish stocks and fishermen.

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