The large video at the bottom of this page is typical of our fishery enforcement missions. A big focus is foreign vessels fishing illegally in territorial waters. We also target dynamite fishing, cyanide fishing, pulse fishing, bottom trawling, and other forms of destructive fishing. Such enforcement will become increasingly important as the world struggles to feed its growing populations, and fishing fleets move into new international and territorial waters. It is important that countries recognise the value of a well-managed fishery resource, and ensure there is professional enforcement, good legislation, and a supportive judiciary to achieve this. Earthrace plays a key role in enforcement missions, as well as the training of government patrol teams. Our current campaign see us based in Costa Rica, assisting government teams in patrolling their Marine Protected Areas. We provide our ship, tactical boats, military UAV, and crew, while the government provides Rangers and other personnel to participate in what are effectively joint patrols. The Costa Rica campaign covers pretty much all their Pacific MPAs, including the iconic Cocos Island Marine Reserve. Here is a playlist with many more fishery enforcement videos.
While flying a skylark military drone over a marine reserve in Guanacaste, we found a trawler operating illegally. We launched our Sealegs amphib from shore and the offending vessel was boarded and secured. This mission is covered in Season 1 Episode 2 in our TV Series.
Often vessels must be boarded to get prosecution, but around the Cocos Island Marine Reserve, all we had to do is prove the fishing vessels are within the 12nm limit. On our final day of patrols, We managed to catch 7 shark-finning boats operating illegally. This mission became a standout episode of Season 1 of our TV Show.
We’d had some success with this small team in catching vessels operating illegally in municipal waters, however this is not always the case. In the video above, the offending vessel opens fire upon us and gets away. Speed, or lack thereof, was a key factor.
Fishery patrols can involve simply clocking up miles to inspect vessels, and you never know what you are going to find. In this video, one of the offending spear-fishermen developed the bends when he surfaced. As is often the case, the offenders were issued with a warning and we let them go.
The vessel apprehended above was the “Dan Israel R”, a pirate vessel (unregistered in any country) that was part of a much larger “alphabet fleet”, operating mostly around the Philippines. On boarding the vessel, we found multiple infractions. The vessel was unregistered. It had no permit or quota. It was running Danish Seine bottom trawling equipment which is banned. It was operating in municipal waters that are limited to small local vessels. Living conditions of the crew were appalling, with the vessel being totally rat infested, despite the numerous dogs present. Several months after this, the owners eventually paid a fine equivalent to US$60,000 to have their vessel released, and charges against the captain were subsequently dropped.