Spanish Authorities Levy Massive Fines on Owner of Notorious Poacher ‘F/V Thunder’


August 4, 2017

On Wednesday the Spanish government announced that six Spanish nationals and six Spanish companies involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Southern Ocean have been fined a combined total of more than €5.2 million euros by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and the Environment (MAPAMA).

The fines are the result of Operation Sparrow II, a continuation of Operation Sparrow, a MAPAMA policing operation targeting Spanish IUU operators, which saw the infamous Vidal Armadores crime syndicate fined more than €17.8 million euros. The recent penalties dealt by the Spanish government targeted other ‘Galician Mafia’ kingpins, including the owner and operator of the Interpol-wanted F/V Thunder, the most notorious poaching vessel in the world before its captain deliberately sank the vessel in the Gulf of Guinea after a 110-day record-setting maritime pursuit by Sea Shepherd.

The captain, and two of his crew, after being rescued by Sea Shepherd, were sentenced to three years in prison, and fined €15 million euros, by a court in the island state of Sao Tome and Principe in 2015.

In addition to the fines handed down in Spain, the six individuals and six companies are sanctioned from partaking in any fishing activity for the next 5-14 years.

An additional €60k euro fine was given to an individual who obstructed law enforcement officers during the course of the MAPAMA investigation.

Operation Sparrow II has enabled Spanish authorities to collect incriminating evidence on the main IUU players in Spain, which can now be used by other jurisdictions internationally; a welcome move as fisheries crime is often transnational in nature. Spain now has the opportunity to show continued leadership by sharing that evidence with other state actors, either bilaterally or through Interpol’s Project Scale, which has shown great efficiency and success in combatting IUU fishing.

Sea Shepherd applauds the continued commitment of Spanish authorities to crack down on IUU fishing by investigating Spanish individuals and companies associated with fisheries crime. 

“More than two years after my crew and I dogged the F/V Thunder for 110 days, chasing it across 10,000 nautical miles, covering three oceans, before finally ending its career, Spanish authorities have continued to chase those who profited most from its ten-year crime spree. We commend the leadership that Spain is showing in the fight to stop IUU fishing and are proud of our own efforts: both in putting a spotlight on IUU fishing and by securing critical evidence against the F/V Thunder”, said Captain Peter Hammarstedt, who heads Sea Shepherd’s campaigns against IUU fishing in Africa.


For further information, additional images and interview requests contact:
Heather Stimmler, Sea Shepherd Global Media Director
E-mail: Tel: +339 7719 7742

Sea Shepherd Global

Sea Shepherd is an international non-profit marine conservation movement using innovative tactics and direct action to defend, conserve and protect the worlds oceans and marine wildlife. Founded by Paul Watson in 1977, today Sea Shepherd is a worldwide movement with independent national and regional entities in over 20 countries. With the exception of the US-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS), they are united by a common mission through Sea Shepherd Global, based in Amsterdam, which coordinates communications, logistics and a fleet of five ships to cooperate on campaigns around the world. Sea Shepherd investigates and documents violations of international and national conservation law, and enforces conservation measures where legal authority exists. For more information, visit:


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SEA SHEPHERD GLOBAL Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately-balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations. A selection of press images are available on our Media Site (high-res images and a videos without watermarks available to qualified press on request):




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