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Sea Shepherd Arrests Super Trawler off Liberian Coast with M/Y Age of Union Vessel

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The direct-action ocean conservation movement aided the local coast guard in taking down  Kanbal III, a super trawler, off the coast of Liberia.

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Alexis Ramlall

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  • Africa
  • Oceans
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On the weekend of Sept. 3, the super trawler Kanbal III was arrested, marking the 20th arrest made by the Liberian Coast Guard in conjunction with Sea Shepherd. Together, the two forces have been combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing since 2017.

Liberian Coast Guard sailors stationed on Sea Shepherd’s M/Y Age of Union boarded the super trawler on the West African coast. There, they found a Senegalese inspection report from May that outlined a number of safety issues that had still not been addressed.  

According to Peter Hammarstedt, Sea Shepherd’s Director of Campaigns, “Kanbal III had a long list of ship safety violations”. These ranged from raft issues and fire extinguisher problems to expired emergency transponders — the maritime safety equivalent of Chef Gordon Ramsay walking into one of his ‘Kitchen Nightmares’, he said.

The super trawler’s extensive history of suspicious activity was outlined in an episode titled “Fish Pirates”, of the award-winning National Geographic series Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller, including long periods of “going dark”, a term for not using mandatory location transponders, and a key indicator of possible illegal fishing activity. 

The series follows Mariana, an investigative journalist who tracks illegal and dangerous black market pipelines from the source to their final destination. This includes pirates, such as the Kanbal III, who make billions each year destroying our oceans.

Van Zeller’s reasoning? 

“I learned one of the great ironies of the fishing world. Despite the fact that almost 20% of our seafood comes from the black market, it is almost impossible to catch anyone red-handed”.

However, Sea Shepherd and Age of Union have been working together with local authorities like the Liberian Coast guard to make the impossible possible. When asked to speak on this partnership, the Honorable Maj Gen (Ret.) Daniel Ziankahn, Liberia’s Minister of National Defense, spoke on how important it is to hold vessels like the Kanbal III accountable for their infractions.

“Last year, my Coastguardsmen on the M/Y Age of Union rescued twelve people when a ferry sank after taking on water. Many passengers died, including children, because [the ferry] did not carry flotation devices for the entire complement. I have a zero-tolerance policy against infractions that threaten the safety of life at sea,” he said. 

Following the inspection, the Kanbal III was placed under arrest by the Liberian Coast Guard and escorted to the Port of Monrovia for detention. 

Following the arrest, Sea Shepherd’s Director of Campaigns mentioned the work of Sea Shepherd and Age of Union, “this is what Sea Shepherd and Age of Union are all about, saving and protecting all life at sea,” said Hammarstedt.

Sea Shepherd is an international marine conservation non-profit organization focused on direct action to conserve and protect the world’s oceans from illegal exploitation and environmental destruction. The organization works with a global network of host governments, such as the Liberian Coast Guard, by providing fully equipped vessels, professional crews, fuel, and other tools to deter illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing to preserve the biodiversity and ecosystems of our oceans.

Age of Union has funded the operating costs of a 56-metre Sea Shepherd vessel for three years, beginning in January 2022. The ship, named the M/Y Age of Union, began patrolling waters to prevent the bycatch of dolphins off France’s Atlantic Coast until the end of March, as covered in the organization’s most recent short film, CAUGHT. From there, the vessel made its way down to the West Coast of Africa, where it will stay for approximately three months before it moves on to future missions to protect ocean ecosystems off the coasts of Europe and Africa.

Article written by
Alexis Ramlall

Alexis manages Age of Union’s socials and creates content on platforms from Instagram and Facebook to Twitter and LinkedIn. As a recent graduate from the University of Toronto’s Journalism program, what originally started as a career in writing jumpstarted an unexpected love for all things social. Now, she runs a content factory from her home in Toronto, Ontario.

Topics

  • Article
  • Africa
  • Oceans
  • Project

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