During the summer and early fall, Vulcan Inc.’s Skylight technology supported the Government of Gabon and its partners to keep its waters clear of illegal fishing. In late September, Skylight aided in the location and arrest of an illegal fishing vessel in São Tomé and Príncipe near the border with Gabon. The vessel, which was flagged in Senegal but linked to Spain, was licensed to fish for tuna but was found to be primarily fishing for blue sharks.
Skylight had been conducting a Marine Protected Area (MPA) monitoring pilot off the coast of West Africa in collaboration with Gabonese authorities. Gabon teamed up with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to increase their enforcement capacities.
The Senegalese flagged long-liner, VEMA, was previously identified as a potential MPA violator by Skylight. The vessel had been operating closely alongside the boundary of the Gabonese Reserve Aquatique des Canyons du Cap Lopez, detected as close as 7km from the MPA. Skylight analysts provided key information about VEMA’s location, which helped lead to the timely interdiction and arrest.
Lee White, Director of the Gabonese National Parks Service said: “the partnership with Vulcan’s Skylight technology was essential in ensuring our marine protected areas were effectively monitored. When our enforcement agents were also able to take advantage of the Sea Shepherd’s assets, we saw the positive outcome of whole-of-society partnerships.”
Government authorities, in coordination with the deputized Sea Shepherd crew, escorted the VEMA to São Tomé and Príncipe where it was charged for illegally processing sharks, many of which were classified as “near-threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The VEMA had a license to fish for tuna and similar species but did not have approval to process fish at sea, and was found to only have sharks on board, indicating that they may have been the targeted species.
Captain Peter Hammerstedt, Director of Campaigns for Sea Shepherd said: “civil society, technology providers, and governments need to work together to end the pillage of our oceans. We should build on partnerships like these to scale impact around the world.”
Patrick Dunagan, Director of Skylight, added: “Vulcan’s commitment to Skylight is part of a vision for the future. We will continue to tap into technological and satellite trends so we can remain one step ahead of bad actors. We are proud to be part of this effort, getting criminal vessels off the oceans, and we will continue to forge ahead to deploy Skylight in support of maritime enforcement operations.”