The arrest took place as part of the Operation Jodari, a joint partnership between NGO Sea Shepherd, Fish-i Africa and the government of Tanzania to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The captain has been in custody since January 2018 when he was charged with five crimes: Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Acts, Unlawful Possession of Shark Fins, Pollution of the Marine Environment, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm and Unlawful Possession of Ammunition. However, the owner and agent joined the Buah Naga 1 in police custody after they were subsequently arrested in June.
On 4 December, the defendants reached a plea agreement with the Tanzanian Director of Public Prosecutions to avoid trial, pleading guilty to one of the five charges: Unlawful Possession of Shark Fins.
The High Court of Tanzania sentenced the three defendants to twenty years imprisonment or a fine of one billion Tanzanian Shillings ($435,000 USD). All three have been remanded to Lilungu Prison in Mtwara to begin serving their custodial sentences. If the fine is paid then the sentence will be suspended.
The High Court has handed over the seized shark fins to the Tanzanian Deep Sea Fishing Authority for destruction. The vessel remains in Mtwara.
Sea Shepherd applauds the Tanzanian government for the successful prosecution of the F/V Buah Naga 1 and for the strong message of deterrence that the Tanzanian High Court has sent to shark fin poachers everywhere. As shark populations plummet globally, Tanzania is rising as an international leader in the fight against illegal fishing,
…said Peter Hammarstedt, Director of Campaigns for Sea Shepherd Global.