In 2017, Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba created the largest network of marine protected areas in Africa. The marine protected areas include nine new national marine parks and eleven aquatic reserves. At least one of the detained trawlers was discovered fishing in Cap Esteria Aquatic Reserve, while both had shark fins onboard.
The Cap Esteria Aquatic Reserve off the West African state is a designated no-fishing area. No other incursions have been detected during the Operation Albacore 3, Sea Shepherd's third campaign against illegal fishing in Gabon.
Operation Albacore 3 is an on-going successful partnership between Sea Shepherd, the Gabonese Fisheries Agencies (ANPA), Gabon's National Agency of National Parks (ANPN) and the Gabonese Navy (Marine Nationale) that makes the protection of Africa's largest network of marine protected areas possible. With newly-established marine protected areas comes a pressing need for enforcement,
...said Captain Peter Hammarstedt onboard the M/Y Bob Barker.
In 2016, Sea Shepherd partnered with the government of Gabon to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in their coastal waters. São Tomé and Principe soon joined the campaign, resulting in the arrest of five ships operating illegally in the Gulf of Guinea.
Sea Shepherd continued the campaign protecting their coastal waters in 2017 with the arrest of two illegal trawlers and a longliner. In 2018, Sea Shepherd is back to resume patrols with Gabonese authorities of Africa's largest marine protected area.