Foreign Industrial Trawler Arrested as Sea Shepherd Launches Renewed Partnership with Liberia to Combat Illegal Fishing

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November 21, 2018

In a joint operation with the Liberian Ministry of National Defense to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Republic of Liberia, West Africa, Sea Shepherd assisted the Liberian Coast Guard in the arrest of a foreign-flagged industrial trawler caught plundering artisanal fishing waters.

Despite great efforts to conceal its identity, the 32-meter trawler Bonheur was intercepted by the Liberian Coast Guard on the 7th of November after crossing into Liberian waters from neighboring Côte d'Ivoire with its fishing gear in the water. On sighting the Coast Guard, the captain of the Bonheur immediately changed course, increased speed and attempted to flee Liberian waters. Using the small boat of Sea Shepherd’s ship, the Sam Simon, the Liberian Coast Guard and Sea Shepherd crew were able to board and secure the Bonheur before it could escape justice.

The boarding team discovered that nets had been draped over the name of the vessel in a bid to conceal its identity from artisanal fishermen who could have otherwise reported the incursion to the Liberian Coast Guard.

The Bonheur was arrested fishing five nautical miles off the coast, within the six-nautical-mile area the Liberian government banned industrial trawling to protect the livelihoods of Liberia’s artisanal fishermen and the 33,000 Liberians who depend on small scale fisheries for their income. The ban, enacted through the establishment of an inshore exclusion zone (IEZ), has resulted in a noticeable increase in fish populations off the coast.

“As local small-scale artisanal fishermen notice the benefit of the IEZ through an increase in fish in populations, some foreign industrial fishing vessels see these coastal areas as piggy banks to be smashed by their industrial gear”, said Peter Hammarstedt, Sea Shepherd Global’s Director of Campaigns.

The Bonheur was subsequently escorted to port by the Sam Simon, where its cargo of fish was confiscated by Liberian authorities, and where the vessel awaits justice.

The arrest of the Bonheur marks the start of Operation Sola Stella III, the third partnership between Sea Shepherd and the Liberian Ministry of National Defense. The apprehension is the 13th arrest of a vessel for fisheries crimes in Liberian waters since February 2017.

To learn more about Operation Sola Stella and Sea Shepherd’s partnership with the Liberian Ministry of Defense to stop illegal fishing, visit:


For hi-res images and media reel (video):

Photo captions/credits:

MG_2297: Liberian Coast Guard questions the captain of the Bonheur. Photo by Emanuela Giurano/Sea Shepherd.

MG_2357: Crew of the Bonheur retrieve their fishing gear. Photo by Emanuela Giurano/Sea Shepherd.

MG_2525: Poached fish on the Bonheur. Photo by Emanuela Giurano/Sea Shepherd.

MG_2574: Bonheur arrested. Photo by Emanuela Giurano/Sea Shepherd.

MG_2685: Liberian Coast Guard secure the bridge of the Bonheur. Photo by Emanuela Giurano/Sea Shepherd.

MG_2784: Bonheur covered its markings with net. Photo by Emanuela Giurano/Sea Shepherd.

MG_6815: Poached fish on the Bonheur. Photo by Emanuela Giurano/Sea Shepherd.

For more information or interviews:

Heather Stimmler, Media Director Sea Shepherd Global
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:


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