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European commercial fishing vessel busted in Africa for shark finning

by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society 10 Oct 2018 17:21 UTC
European commercial fishing vessel busted in Africa for shark finning © Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

On September 22nd, local authorities from the Central African island state of São Tomé and Príncipe boarded the Senegalese-flagged, but Spanish-linked, long-line fishing vessel Vema in a joint operation with Sea Shepherd marine conservationists and Gabonese law enforcement officers for Operation Albacore III.

Although the long-liner was licensed to fish for 'tuna and similar species', inspections carried out by São Toméan authorities working on board the Sea Shepherd vessel Bob Barker revealed their fish holds were solely filled with sharks, predominately blue sharks that are classified as 'near-threatened' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Approximately two tons of sharks – including shark fins severed from their corresponding torsos – were discovered by inspectors, a fraction of what would have been uncovered had the Vema not recently return to São Toméan waters from Walvis Bay, Namibia, a port commonly used for offloading shark fins.

The vessel was arrested, and authorities from São Tomé and Príncipe are now pursuing legal action.

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