By Alpha Kamara
Four fishing boats were arrested Thursday during a joint surveillance mission conducted by Greenpeace and Sierra Leone maritime and fishery authorities, Greenpeace said.
Two Chinese and one Korean vessels were arrested for infringements of Sierra Leone fishing legislation, including using illegal fishing nets, no visible marking and a lack of required paperwork and authorization, according to a press release by the global environmental organization.
A fourth vessel, owned by an Italian company, was found with four kilograms of shark fins on board, the statement said, adding fishing authorities had ordered the vessels to return to Freetown port for further investigations and face the consequences.
In addition, more than 70 bags of shark carcasses were reportedly found aboard one of the Chinese vessels.
Greenpeace said, they, along with Sierra Leonean authorities inspected and boarded seven vessels during a four-day joint surveillance of Sierra Leonean seas. These included three Chinese, two EU, one Korean, and one Senegalese vessel with Korean investment.
Currently, 140 vessels are licensed to operate in Sierra Leonean waters, including tuna purse seiners, shrimp trawlers and mid-water trawlers targeting rare fish like sardinella and mackerel, according to Greenpeace.
Nearly half of all vessels in the country’s waters are owned by Chinese companies, while 40% is owed by European Union companies, it said.