Crew aboard the Sam Simon during a retrieval operation of an illegal 25 kilometer gill net set by the notorious toothfish poaching vessel, the Thunder. Photo: Jeff Wirth / Sea Shepherd Global

By David Beniuk
4 January 2015

(The Mercury) – SEA Shepherd activists are vowing to tail Antarctica’s most wanted illegal fishing vessel until it is forced into port and its crew arrested. 

Bob Barker skipper Peter Hammarstedt says his vessel has enough fuel to outlast the Nigerian-flagged Thunder, which is wanted by Interpol and black-listed by Antarctic authorities.

The two-week pursuit comes after the conservation group turned its attention to illegal fishing when Japan’s Southern Ocean whaling season was suspended.

“The Thunder is the most notorious of what we call the Bandit Six,” Captain Hammarstedt told the Sunday Tasmanian from his ship’s position 1000 nautical miles south-east of South Africa.

“We are keeping Interpol and the Australian, New Zealand, and Norwegian authorities updated daily as to the position of this vessel.

“Our hope is the vessel will be arrested when it gets to its next port of call.”

That destination is unknown but is likely to be a port of convenience where rules are lax.

Interpol has issued a purple notice on the vessel at the instigation of Australia, New Zealand, and Norway. Its crew is alleged to be illegally fishing for Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish for markets in Asia.

Captain Hammarstedt said it was likely the vessel had fished illegally in Australian waters.

“The Australian authorities should be very interested in seeing the fishing logs of this vessel,” he said.

Sea Shepherd said it had confiscated two illegal 25km gillnets that will be used as evidence in the legal pursuit of the Thunder.

“We’ll stay with them for however long it takes,” Captain Hammarstedt said.

“We’re willing to make this the longest pursuit of a poaching vessel in history.” [more]

Antarctica’s most wanted illegal fishing boat tailed by Sea Shepherd



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