Tuesday, 31 March 2015


by Capt Paul Watson
The epic chase of the THUNDER by the BOB BARKER and the SAM SIMON continues with all three ships almost 1,000 nautical miles off the coast of Nigeria in the South Atlantic Ocean.
With the poaching vessel KUNLUN in custody in Thailand, a third poacher the VIKING has now been arrested in Malaysia. The Nigerian flagged vessel is being detained in Tanjung Sedili, Malaysia on charges of illegal entry.
There are 18 crew onboard, 1 Chilean, 2 Peruvian and 15 Indonesian. Sea Shepherd has asked that the VIKING be investigated for human rights abuses. The VIKING also had a recent a name change. The vessel was previously called the SNAKE.
Operation Icefish has been the longest continuous Sea Shepherd campaign in both duration and in distances covered. Most importantly it has been successful.
Illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean has been exposed internationally. Interpol is taking action to stop the ships that have been found fishing illegally. 72 kilometers of nets have been confiscated from the THUNDER. The cargo of 182 tons of toothfish from the KUNLUN has been impounded. The authorities throughout Southeast Asia are on the look out for the other operating poaching vessels the YONGDING, SONGUA and PERLON. The Spanish police are taking action against the fish companies in Spain. For the KUNLUN and the THUNDER, they have lost their profits for the season and have incurred debts for their costs.
Not since 2003 has there been such activity in opposing the poachers of the Southern Ocean. Enthusiasm died back then when the Uruguayan poacher VIRASA I was found not guilty on technicalities after what was then the longest pursuit on the high seas, the 21-day chase by the Australian customs ship SOUTHERN SUPPORTER.
The VIKING is one of the Bandit Six that includes the THUNDER, KUNLUN, SONGHUA, YONGDING and PERLON.
Constantly changing names and flags, these vessels have plundered the Southern Ocean for millions of dollars of Toothfish, a product that is smuggled into countries around the world and sold in high end restaurants as Chilean Sea Bass, Mero, Icefish or Antarctic cod. As the numbers decline in the sea, demand rises in the market place causing prices to rise fueling more investment to catch these valuable fish. There is a legal toothfish industry that is well regulated but this regulation is undermined by the unrestricted poaching operations by these pirate-fishing operations.


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