October 11, 2012
A group of 23 impoverished west African fishing communities has driven off a fleet of illegal, unreported and unregulated “pirate” trawlers by filming and reporting them when they are found in their waters.
In the 18 months since the London-based Environment Justice Foundation (EJF) raised the £50,000 needed to buy and equip a small seven-metre community surveillance boat for villages in the Sherbro river area of Sierra Leone, local fishers have filmed and identified 10 international trawlers working illegally in their protected waters and have made 252 separate reports of illegal fishing.
Images of the pirate ships and their GPS positions are analysed to establish the identity of the vessels and the evidence is passed on to European Union (EU) and African governments, fishing ports and other communities. Nine of the 10 ships identified by the Sierra Leonean communities were found to have licences to export their catches to Europe.