The Global Pursuit of a Fugitive Ship

Catch Me If You Can: The Global Pursuit of a Fugitive Ship

The tale of a notorious fishing vessel shows just how difficult combating illegal activity at sea can be.

by Sarah Tory

In the middle of the Indian Ocean in March 2018, a rusty fishing boat cut through the waves as a similarly sized but far-sleeker vessel called the Ocean Warrior followed in hot pursuit.

At 54 meters long and nine meters wide, the Ocean Warrior is equipped with four engines, long-range fuel tanks, a helicopter landing pad, and a water cannon capable of hosing its target with about 20,000 liters each minute. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society had custom built the US $8-million vessel for running down Japanese whaling ships in the Southern Ocean, but had recently been using it to patrol the waters off Tanzania for illegal fishing boats in partnership with the Tanzanian government and a task force representing eight East African countries called FISH-i Africa. Sea Shepherd provided the boat, crew, and fuel; FISH-i Africa, offered advice borne of experience counteracting illegal fishing operations; and Tanzania provided law enforcement agents who had the authority to apprehend vessels.

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Guard stops vessel suspected of IUU fishing.

Liberian Coast Guard stops vessel suspected of IUU fishing.

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