Sea Shepherd provided its vessel — the Brigitte Bardot — and her crew to aid the patrols conducted by Guatemalan officials, joining members of the Fisheries Department and Navy. These patrols were arranged based on a prior agreement between Sea Shepherd Global and Guatemalan authorities, in accordance with Guatemalan legislation. Sea Shepherd applauds Guatemala for being open to cooperative efforts to stop poaching.
On each patrol, through the use of intelligence, the Sea Shepherd crew and Guatemalan officials were able to locate and halt poaching operations. These results point to the effectiveness of the patrols as well as the need for a continued partnership between the Guatemalan government and Sea Shepherd to halt these illegal activities.
During one patrol, Sea Shepherd crew and Guatemalan officials located a large fishing boat, which made an initial attempt to flee but then stopped for inspection. Onboard the ship, a catch of approximately one ton of sharks was discovered. The boat was being used to illegally fish in Guatemalan waters, without any papers or permits. One of the vessel’s crewmembers was also found to be underage at 16-years-old. Armed Naval officers took control of the vessel and escorted it back to port to face fines and other penalties.
On the third patrol, poachers who were found during the first patrol and fined $500 were once again found illegally fishing, proving that minimal fines are not enough to deter career-poachers from their illicit activities. Stronger punishments are needed.
Though these anti-poaching operations are dangerous, the ruthlessness and brazen persistence of the poachers shows an urgent need for this work to continue. Sea Shepherd will remain vigilant in our defense of ocean wildlife and habitats despite the inherent risks. These dedicated enforcement patrols and the invitation to Sea Shepherd to assist in these vital efforts have shown that Guatemalan authorities are stepping up to take action for the oceans. These efforts send a strong warning to anyone intending to break the law in Guatemala’s waters.
The evidence obtained during these pilot patrols will be compiled and reported to the Guatemalan government in order to illustrate the urgent need for ongoing anti-poaching enforcement.
“Sea Shepherd is proud to have assisted Guatemalan officials, providing our vessel and dedicated crew to carry out these patrols. The greed of poachers is bleeding the oceans dry around the world, but we have been able to show here in Guatemala that what is needed to stop poachers is for governments and organizations like Sea Shepherd to join together to take direct action in defense of these at-risk marine environments,” said Captain Alex Cornelissen, Sea Shepherd Global Executive Director.
Along with their assistance in carrying out anti-poaching patrols, Sea Shepherd’s crew of the Brigitte Bardot has helped to spread awareness about the need for ocean conservation by giving talks in Guatemalan schools.