The objective of our IUU Task Force campaigns, such as Operation Sola Stella (Liberia, 2017) and Operation Albacore (Gabon, So Tom and Principe, 2016), is to partner with Coastal States in Africa to put an end to the unchecked poaching and IUU fishing that takes place in the Exclusive Economic Zone waters of these sovereign nations.
Although national laws and international agreements exist to protect their coastal waters and marine reserves from overfishing and IUU fishing, their resources to adequately patrol and enforce them are stretched thin. Sea Shepherd provides ships and crew which the partner government agencies such as the Coastguard can use for both long-term training and capacity-building, as well as for patrolling the coastal waters and boarding any vessels suspected of IUU fishing.
In 2016, Sea Shepherds five-month campaign in the Gulf of Guinea, Operation Albacore, was a partnership with Gabons Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Fisheries (ANPA), as well as two marines and one fisheries observer from neighboring island state So Tom and Principe. With national agency representatives and military on board, the M/Y Bob Barker carried out five surveillance and control missions of 20 days each patrolling the Gabonese and Sao Tomean waters and Marine Protected Area (MPA) for IUU fishing activity. Over 50 vessels were boarded and five were arrested. Gabons waters, which covers an area of over 200,000 square kilometers of highly productive waters, accounts for 20 % of Atlantic tuna global catches This operation brought to light a heavy toll of illegal fishing and the need for effective law enforcement.
In February 2017, Sea Shepherd partnered with the Liberian Ministry of Defense for a three-month campaign, Operation Sola Stella, to stop IUU fishing in their EEZ, and in particular to help protect Liberias inshore exclusion zone that reserves the six nautical miles closest to shore for subsistence, artisanal and semi-artisanal fishing, a sector which employs 33,000 Liberians. The campaign resulted in the arrest of five vessels, including a Nigerian-flagged shrimp trawler certified as sustainable by the US Department of State caught without a valid fishing permit and without using the legally-required Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs). Prior to the arrival of the M/Y Bob Barker in Liberia, the artisanal fishing community of Harper, a Liberian town on the border with Cote dIvoire, complained of almost daily incursions by foreign industrial trawlers fishing illegally. In the last month of patrolling Liberian waters, Sea Shepherd did not come across any IUU fishing activity, indicating that law enforcement at sea is having a deterrent effect.
Sea Shepherd aims to establish long-term relationships with partner nations, returning to Liberia and Gabon as needed, and to steadily build partnerships in additional African countries where IUU fishing is an ongoing problem. Due to the success of Operation Albacore and Operation Sola Stella, Sea Shepherd is already in preliminary discussions with several government representatives in both West and East African coastal nations.
Updates to voluntary commitment
By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
Type of commitment
- Compliance, monitoring and enforcement
By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information
Type of commitment
- MPA management and/or enforcement
Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets
Type of commitment
- Other (please specify): enforce national inshore exclusion zone reserved for artisan fishing against illegal fishing
Build partnerships with additional African Coastal Nations where IUU fishing is an ongoing problem
Through ongoing partnership with Liberia ministries, protect the inshore exclusion zone and end IUU fishing in Liberia, West Africa
Through ongoing partnership with government ministries, protect the MPA and end IUU fishing in Gabon, So Tom and Principe, West Africa
Empowering governments to adequately monitor, control and surveillance their waters through capacity- and capability-building.
Financing (in USD)
A percentage of the food and equipment used on board Sea Shepherd vessels is donated by individuals and businesses that support our mission.
Other, please specify
Five Sea Shepherd patrol ships with crew and captain (including M/Y Bob Barker currently in W. Africa) to accommodate and serve as training grounds for partner countries’ military and fisheries agencies personnel; RIBs for boarding and inspections.
Staff / Technical expertise
Sea Shepherd Global IUU Task Force Leader, campaign media team (photographers, videographers, media relations director), staff based in Amsterdam, and Global Board of Directors. From partnering countries: Administrative staff and military personnel.