Pirates Found!

by Maureen Bonner

April 4, 2006

Well a lot has happened since I last wrote… As you all know we have been working with the Guinean authorities to find and arrest illegal or pirate fishing boats. During the night of the 27th we found a group of boats, and at first light sent up the helicopter to identify the ships.  Lian Run No. 14 – one of a family of Chinese vessels we have documented – was not on the list of ships authorized to fish. We then launched the inflatables and after confirming the ship had no license it was arrested.
The captain claimed that the documentation was lodged in Las Palmas…it wasn’t of course. Also all the boxes on board for packing fish bore the names of other vessels.
The ship was a piece of junk and had next to no steering mechanism. We had crew that stayed on board with the Guinean authorities and the Esperanza escorted the vessel into port. It took us well over 24 hours to travel the 60 miles into Conakry (in Guinea).
It was a really weird situation and made a lot of us question what we feel we should be doing. Knowing that the crew, probably quite unaware of the licensing or lack thereof, from poor countries, and probably with families to feed, are now imprisoned on their ship in Guinea – for who knows how long is just really sad.

I thought about it long and hard and it now sits okay with me even if it is not a situation that I like.
Greenpeace’s role is to take action to stop environmental crime – and what is going on here is both environmentally wrong as well as having huge human rights issues entangled with it. In this region the only effective way to halt the practice is to work with the authorities to make arrests… and to get EU to live up to it’s promise to help with this problem here.
I guess I am babbling now.
We have since been all over the place – and are now hunting down illegal reefers (boats that pick up the fish from the ships at sea) – more on this in the next few days.

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