Liberia arrests high-tech poachers for illegal fishing and bribery

Image: Melissa Romao/Sea Shepherd
Image: Melissa Romao/Sea Shepherd – Liberian Coast Guard officers prepare to board the F/V Panofi Fore Runner.

The Liberian Coast Guard has seized the Ghanaian-flagged fishing vessel Panofi Fore Runner in waters belonging to the West African state of Liberia.

The 71-metre purse seine vessel, which had 700 tonnes of tuna onboard, was apprehended with nine fish aggregation devices (FADs) when fishing in Liberian waters and without a Liberian fishing licence.

FADs are essentially fish magnets that attract fish. The vessel can then set its two-kilometre net on the FAD, scooping up the fish underneath.

The Master and Chief Officer allegedly offered bribes of US$1,450.45 and US$6,911.80 to Liberian Coast Guard boarding officers, incidents that will lead to additional charges being laid.

Assisted by controversial group Sea Shepherd, the coast guard has detained the vessel at the port of Monrovia awaiting legal action.

Fishing without a Liberian fishing licence is the most serious offence under the Liberian Fisheries Regulations. It attracts a fine of up to US$1 million.

Each deployed FAD constitutes a separate offence for a possible total fine of US$9 million.

Before the latest incident, Operation Sola Stella – which is tackling illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Liberian waters – had arrested eight IUU vessels since February 2017.

Baird Maritime

The best maritime site on the web. The sea's our scene!