Timber Smugglers Busted in Sea Shepherd’s Second Joint Patrol with Tanzania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 15, 2018

A 20-day at-sea patrol undertaken by a coalition of Tanzanian law enforcement agencies, Fish-i Africa and Sea Shepherd crew, working on board the Sea Shepherd ship, M/Y Ocean Warrior, has resulted in the arrest of ten vessels, seven of which belong to a network of timber smugglers who are devastating mangrove forests in East Africa.

Since the arrest of three fishing vessels for fisheries crimes and the levying of fines totaling 19 billion Tanzanian Shillings (6,865,160 EUR) against 19 other fishing vessels that fled Tanzania before submitting to mandatory post-fishing inspections, there has been little to no observed fishing activity in Tanzanian waters. Thus, the M/Y Ocean Warrior spent two weeks monitoring an infamous smuggling route between the island of Zanzibar and the mainland of Tanzania.

During the course of the patrols, seven dhows were arrested for smuggling illegal cargos of mangrove timber to be sold on the black market. Dhows are traditional cargo boats commonly found trading in the Indian Ocean.

Tanzanian law strictly protects mangrove forests as they are critical habit for the many species of shellfish and fin fish that spawn and nurse there, and thereby crucial to supporting the livelihoods of local communities, especially artisanal fishermen.

Despite the best efforts of the Tanzanian government to enforce wide protections of mangrove swamps, some areas have been exploited to such an extent that natural regeneration is impossible without the intervention of law enforcement. Busting timber smuggling operations at sea is an important part of that human intervention and leads to intelligence that can be used by law enforcement to raid shore-based operations of the highly lucrative smuggling trade in mangrove timber.

All seven dhows were forfeited, their cargoes confiscated, and their captains arrested. The captain of one of the dhows deliberately sank his own vessel while under tow by the M/Y Ocean Warrior in order to create a climate of confusion with the intention of allowing the other towed dhows to escape. The crew of the dhow were rescued, and the captain charged on suspicion of obstructing a criminal investigation.

Tanzanian authorities also arrested a Pakistani captain of a cargo vessel on suspicion of violating Tanzanian immigration laws, and two dhows transporting a combined total of 71 people, including 12 children, in unseaworthy vessels without proper registration papers or life-saving appliances such as life jackets.

In total, ten vessels were arrested on the second joint patrol between Sea Shepherd and Tanzanian authorities, supported by Fish-i Africa.

“Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is ultimately a maritime security problem. The poachers of shark fins that were arrested on the first patrol of Operation Jodari exploit the same monitoring, control and surveillance vulnerabilities as other criminal networks: drug traffickers, human traffickers and in this case, timber traffickers,” said Captain Peter Hammarstedt, Director of Campaigns for Sea Shepherd Global. “Operation Jodari is having a huge effect in that the provision of a civilian offshore patrol vessel is bringing illegal fishing vessels to justice – and is shutting down smuggling routes used to perpetrate other environmental crimes.”

About Operation Jodari

Operation Jodari seeks to control all vessel operations in the waters of Tanzania, boarding those suspected of IUU, as well as training Tanzanian officers in monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) of fishing activity in Tanzanian waters, including fishing vessel inspections and boarding procedures.

On board Sea Shepherd’s ship, the M/Y Ocean Warrior, law enforcement agents with the Deep Sea Fishing Authority, Tanzanian Navy, Tanzanian Drug Enforcement Agency and the Multi-Agency Task Team (MATT) are working alongside Captain Adam Meyerson and Sea Shepherd crew to patrol Tanzania's sovereign waters. The law enforcement agents have the authority to board, inspect and arrest vessels in violation of Tanzanian law. The MATT is led by the Tanzania Police Force and includes the Tanzania Forest Services, the Wildlife Division, Fisheries Division and the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service. It was formed to target individuals and networks that control environmental crime in the region and the illegal trade in wildlife.

It is estimated that between 11 and 26 million tons of fish are caught globally through IUU fishing every year. Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing and approximately USD $1 billion is lost to IUU fishing in the Western Indian Ocean region annually.

Operation Joadari is supported by Fish-i Africa, a partnership of eight East African countries including Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Somalia, that fosters information-sharing and regional cooperation to combat large-scale illegal fishing in the Western Indian Ocean.

Operation Jodari is the fourth partnership between Sea Shepherd and African coastal states with the political will to stop IUU fishing.

Since February 2017, under the name Operation Sola Stella, Sea Shepherd has been assisting the government of Liberia to tackle IUU fishing by providing the use of a civilian offshore patrol vessel operating in Liberian waters, under the direction of the Liberian Ministry of National Defense. Operation Sola Stella has resulted in the arrest of ten vessels for IUU fishing.

In 2016 Sea Shepherd partnered with the government of Gabon for Operation Albacore, resulting in over 80 fishing vessel inspections at sea and the subsequent arrest of five IUU Congolese fishing trawlers and one Spanish long-liner. Operation Jodari is a continuation of Sea Shepherd’s commitment to work actively with national governments and their law enforcement agents in the fight against IUU fishing.

For more information about Operation Jodari and Sea Shepherd, visit: https://www.seashepherdglobal.org/our-campaigns/jodari-2/

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Download Link for all 17 Hi-Res Images and captions (credit all photos Jax Oliver/Sea Shepherd): https://minerva.seashepherdglobal.org/share.cgi?ssid=01WAzqU

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-019.jpg - The inspection team uncover an illegal mangrove trade syndicate and several tons of mangrove products onboard local dhows

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-021.jpg - MATT investigators check paperwork onboard several dhows laden with illegally harvested mangrove products

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-023.jpg - Marines instruct dhows to come alongside the Ocean Warrior for inspection

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-041.jpg - Inspectors uncover cold stores full of unlicensed and unreported catch on local transport dhows

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-044.jpg - Unlicensed and unreported transport of marine catch is a big part of the problem with IUU fishing in territorial waters

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-064.jpg - Over 800 pieces of illegally harvested mangrove timber were uncovered on this single dhow.

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-070.jpg - Sacks full of mangrove charcoal and lengths of mangrove timber were all uncovered during inspections alongside the Ocean Warrior

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-080.jpg - Inspectors uncover the scale of illegally harvested mangrove products coming out of Bagamoyo on local dhows.

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-090.jpg - Six out of the 15 dhows inspected during one morning were arrested for environmental crimes related to the transport of marine and mangrove wildlife products.

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-094.jpg - A fleet of dhows alongside the Ocean Warrior during inspections - laden with timber lengths and bags of illegal charcoal

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-111.jpg - Dhows alongside the Ocean Warrior, arrested for carrying illegally harvested mangrove products.

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-135.jpg - All in tow. The Ocean Warrior escorts dhows to the marine police office during their arrest

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-140.jpg - The deck crew tether the dhows for arrest and transit to Dar es Salaam for prosecution

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-141.jpg - Dhow crew alert Sea Shepherd crew of water inundation while under tow just after nightfall

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-142.jpg - Sea Shepherd engineers form a prompt response with the emergency fire fighting pump bailing out the sinking dhow

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-146.jpg - Rescue efforts in vain: sinking dhow still laden with illegally harvested mangrove products sinks in the Dar es Salaam harbor.

180302-OPJ-JO-Local Dhow Arrests-150.jpg - All crew from the sunken dhow safe and accounted for after emergency rescue operations.

180305-OPJ-JO-Mangroves-001.jpg - Coastal mangrove forests at Bagamoyo: the origins of timber products illegally traded and transported through Tanzania’s territorial waters.

For further information, additional images and interview requests, contact: 
Heather Stimmler, Sea Shepherd Global Media Director 
E-mail: media@seashepherdglobal.org 
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, united by a common mission and a fleet of eleven ships 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: http://www.seashepherdglobal.org/

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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): http://media.seashepherdglobal.org/