Sea Shepherd and Government of Tuvalu Commence Patrols Against Illegal Fishing

maandag, 03 Jun, 2024

Joint Fisheries patrols have begun onboard Sea Shepherd's ship the Allankay in the waters of Tuvalu—a Polynesian country made up of reef islands and coral atolls located halfway between Hawaii and Australia. The campaign aims to fill a law enforcement gap left since the island nation’s lone offshore patrol boat was irreparably damaged when a cyclone hit the region in March 2023.

Peter Hammarstedt with Tuvalu Police onboard the Allankay. Photo by Youenn Kerdavid/Sea Shepherd Global.
The Allankay and fast smallboat Bravo in Tuvalu. Photo by Guillermo Reverter Cid/Sea Shepherd Global.
Sea Shepherd assists Tuvalu Police with a boarding to inspect a fishing vessel. Photo by Youenn Kerdavid/Sea Shepherd Global.
Bycatch of rainbow fish in the nets of a fishing vessel during inspection. Photo by Alice Bacou/Sea Shepherd Global.

Stationed on board Allankay are five individuals from the Tuvalu Police Service Maritime Wing with the authority to board, inspect and arrest vessels operating in violation of the laws of Tuvalu.

The Pacific Ocean has become a hotspot of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activity, costing Pacific Island countries an estimated $600 million US dollars annually, according to the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA). Key to addressing IUU fishing is the ability of national law enforcement agents to conduct inspections at sea.

“The landmass of Tuvalu is only 26km² compared to 900,000km² of maritime territory. Tuvalu is truly an ocean country and, without an offshore patrol boat, much of the jurisdiction of the Tuvalu Police Service has been out of reach. We are proud to support the government of Tuvalu in getting the police back on their beat.”

Peter Hammarstedt, Director of Campaigns for Sea Shepherd.
Tuvaluan Dance Ceremony. Photo by Tim Watters/Sea Shepherd Global.
Artisanal fishing zone in Tuvalu. Photo by Tim Watters/Sea Shepherd Global.
Reef fish in Tuvalu waters. Photo by Guillermo Reverter Cid/Sea Shepherd Global.

Sea Shepherd was invited to Tuvalu by the government after it learned of the conservation successes in the Central African country of Gabon, where Sea Shepherd Global has been working for eight years.

Since 2016, Sea Shepherd Global has collaborated with governments around the African continent, assisting eight country partners—Gabon, Liberia, Tanzania, The Gambia, Benin, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, and Namibia—to arrest 98 vessels for illegal fishing and other fisheries crimes. Tuvalu is Sea Shepherd’s first country partnership in the Pacific.

“Although we have very good conservation management measures in place, the greatest challenge for Pacific Island countries is the enforcement of those measures. This partnership that we have with Sea Shepherd helps to address that issue with enforcement,” said the Honorable Simon Kofe, Minister for Transport, Energy, Communication and Innovation with the Government of Tuvalu.

Tuvalu is one of the countries in the world most significantly impacted by rising sea levels due to climate change, as the highest point in the country is only 4.6 meters above sea level. Many Tuvaluans are relocating to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji as climate refugees while land reclamation projects seek to expand the availability of safe land in the country.

Meanwhile, more than 50% of Tuvalu’s economy depends on fisheries, and three out of four Tuvaluan households participate in some kind of subsistence fishing. Illegal fishing from foreign industrialized fishing vessels poses a threat to protected animals like sharks, sensitive sea areas like coral reefs, and the livelihoods of Tuvaluans.

“The fate of the Tuvaluan people and their culture is and has always been intertwined with that of the ocean. The country now faces two manmade ecological catastrophes, neither of which is of their own making: climate change and illegal fishing,” said Peter Hammarstedt.

Tuvalu police with Sea Shepherd's Allankay in the background. Photo by Youenn Kerdavid/Sea Shepherd Global.
Peter Hammarstedt looks at the FADs during the boarding of an industrial fishing vessel in Tuvalu. Photo by Youenn Kerdavid/Sea Shepherd Global.

Through Operation Tuvalu, Sea Shepherd is committed to assisting the people of Tuvalu in their fight against IUU fishing, while defending the marine life of its surrounding sea.

Watch the campaign launch video below:


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