Destructive Fishing Gear Confiscated!
by Jessica Miller
April 16, 2008
Today I witnessed the kind of fishing practices that are threatening to drive the tuna fisheries in the South Pacific to near collapse. In a time span shorter than a normal day at work, I witnessed both a purse seiner and a FAD (Fish Aggregation Device) both set in international waters, both by foreign vessels.
At 9am, a Korean purse seiner appeared a short distance from the Esperanza. After Tweety went up to confirm the location and nature of the fishing vessel, we launched two boats and headed to the Korean purse seiner. Our Korean translator contacted the fishing vessel and informed them they must immediately leave the area we are defending as a no-take marine reserve. While the conversation appeared to be very polite, the only change I noticed was the vessel speeding up and the crew seeming to be getting their fire hoses ready. As the crew from the Korean ship came out on deck, we deployed banners demanding an end to the overfishing of the Pacific Commons. As we arrived back at the ship, the crew told us they had spotted a FAD while the boats were out with the Korean purse seiner. The boats were sent out once again, this time with a dive team ready to document the FAD.
Following the documentation, the Esperanza confiscated the FAD by hauling it onboard. This was no small feat as the FAD was more than 80 meters long.
While we have no idea how many of these devices there are out here, tonight we can all go to bed knowing there will be one less.
The seven hours I spent in the hot equatorial sun of the South Pacific have left me exhausted, a little bruised and very determined. I am grateful to be here in the South Pacific as the Esperanza fights to defend the Pacific Commons from overfishing.