MONROVIA, Montserrado – The Liberian Coast Guard has arrested a popular fishing vessel for trespassing. The arrest was made on March 13 with assistance from the activist group, Sea Shepherd.
According to the international direct-action ocean conservation movement, a Liberian Coast Guard team working with its patrol vessel M/Y Sam Simon boarded and inspected the F/V Hai Lung, previously identified as ‘Kily’, while it was traveling off Liberian shores.
The report said the vessel has been blacklisted by several regional fisheries management organizations, including the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, the South East Atlantic Fisheries Organization, and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission.
“As a result, the vessel has been denied port access in Togo and Angola, and unofficial sources state that it was detained in Nigeria for entering Nigerian waters without authorization last year,” the report revealed.
It said while carrying on inspection of the vessel, the Coast Guard officer was also presented fake documents claiming that the F/V Hai Lung was registered as a fishing vessel of Indonesia.
“The Certificate of Nationality was allegedly issued on the 8th of August 2017 in Jakarta, Indonesia by a senior Ministry of Transportation official who had long since been transferred to another government position,” the report further noted.
However, it said the Indonesian Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries has no record of the vessel in their databases.
The forged Certificate of Nationality makes the F/V Hai Lung a vessel ‘without nationality’, subject to seizure anywhere, including on the High Seas.
This is not the first time Sea Shepherd has aided the Liberian Coast Guard to arrest vessels making illegal entry into the country’s waters.
Under its operation “Operation Sola Stella,” Sea Shepherd has assisted the Liberia since February 2017 to tackle illegal fishing.
Before launching its operations in Liberia, artisanal fishermen from Harper, Maryland, complained of daily incursions by foreign industrial fishing vessels running over their nets and entering areas reserved for them.
The Liberian Coast Guard, along with a Sea Shepherd vessel, Bob Barker, launched several raids in March last year and arrested Star Shrimper XXV, marking the first such arrest in decades.
A Chinese-flagged fishing vessel, Guo Ji 809, was also arrested for illegal fishing in Liberia, on January 4 this year by the Liberian Coast Guard and assisted by Sea Shepherd.
Authorities of the Liberian Maritime Authority and the National Fishery and Aquaculture Authority have not yet spoken to The Bush Chicken on the latest arrest.
Featured photo by Adam Lau/Sea Shepherd Conservation Society