The eight member countries of the FISH-i Africa Task Force have once again closed ranks and forced a known IUU fishing vessel to flee the region.

STS-50 called in port in Madagascar in February 2018 where inspectors identified that it was in fact the IUU listed vessel that was better known under its previous names of ANDREY DOLGOV, AYDA and SEA BREEZ 1.

Tracked by FISH-i as it sought to refuel and obtain fresh provisions, the STS-50 was held and inspected by a multi-agency team in Mozambique who seized the documents of the vessel and crew and detained the vessel for further investigation. Whilst in detention the vessel fled from Mozambican authorities and with all the regions ports on high alert it was forced to refuel at sea.

Despite attempts to hide the identity and location of the vessel analysts at FISH-i Africa were able to track the STS-50, enabling pursuit of the vessel by the Sea Shepherd patrol boat OCEAN WARRIOR that was actively patrolling in the Tanzanian exclusive economic zone.

This positional information was shared with the Maritime Fusion Centres in Madagascar and Singapore, leading to the successful arrest of the vessel by the Indonesian Navy as the STS-50 fled the Western Indian Ocean and headed for South East Asia.

A multilateral investigation team, to include the relevant national authorities, INTERPOL, FISH-i Africa will continue investigations into the activity and identity of the STS-50.

“The arrest of this high profile vessel demonstrates the real value of cooperation at a regional and international level,” stated Per Erik Bergh of Stop Illegal Fishing. “We are delighted to see how effective the FISH-i Africa Task Force is when its members pool resources and collaborate against rogue vessels. To have this backed up by enforcement action from Indonesia on the other side of the Indian Ocean is a significant development. This is showing illegal operators everywhere that they can no longer get away with switching identities and switching regions.”

“We are also grateful for the collaboration from the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centres in Madagascar and Singapore who have played a crucial role in coordinating both information and action on the STS-50,” added Bergh.

“The trans Indian Ocean chase and subsequent arrest of the STS-50 demonstrates what is possible when governments, law enforcement and civil society work together to combat IUU fishing,” said Peter Hammarstedt of Sea Shepherd.

Nicholas Ntheketha, Chair of FISH-i Africa commented, “This cooperation showcases how effective we can be when a number of organisations pull together and share information – FISH-i Africa, the West Africa Task Force, the Maritime Information Fusion Centres in Madagascar and Singapore, INTERPOL, Sea Shepherd and their patrol vessel OCEAN WARRIOR and the government of Indonesia have all played a valuable role in stopping this wanted vessel from continuing to operate.”