The Government of the Gambia collaborated with the Sea Shepherd arresting a fourth trawler, fishing vessel ‘Niam Niokho’ for fishing within The Gambia’s nine-nautical mile Special Management Area reserved for artisanal fishermen in less than a month.
Specifically, this arrest comes after the government of The Gambia had already arrested, in late August, two fishing trawlers for IUU fishing activities. In their efforts to tackle IUU fishing, Sea Shepherd arrested the fifteenth illegal-fishing vessel in partnership with the Liberian Ministry of National Defense. The vessel caught, Solevant, is the 15th arrest of an illegal-fishing vessel in the area.
Taking part in the arrest, law enforcement agents representing the Gambian Department of Fisheries and The Gambia Navy on board the Sea Shepherd vessel Sam Simon, on September 11 arrested the fishing trawler as its fishing log book confirmed the vessel’s illegal operations.
Peter Hammarstedt, Sea Shepherd Global’s Director of Campaigns commented for the arrest that
Four arrests – and the following massive deterrent effect – show that the leadership of the Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources in cracking down hard on illegal operations is having an impact for local people.
The waters of The Gambia have a rich biodiversity given that the country is located where the nutrient-rich Gambia River meets the Canary Current. The livelihoods of over 200,000 Gambians are directly or indirectly dependent on local fisheries while the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) believes that more than 46% of the assessed fish populations in the Eastern Central Atlantic are experiencing overfishing.
A big number of fishing vessels off the coast of the Gambia have fisheries observes onboard who act as third party checks and balances to the recordings of the fishing captain.
According to a European infographic the IUU fishing practices worth 10 billion euros annually on a global scale. In addition they hold the 19% of the worldwide reported value of catches.
Sea Shepherd’s partnership with The Gambia, named Operation Gambian Coastal Defense, highlights the seventh African coastal State to join a growing effort to stop illegal fishing around the African continent through joint at-sea patrols.