From Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, May 2011
The territorial waters off Libya are a declared a no-fly zone by NATO, which means there will be a distinct absence of poaching surveillance in the region. NATO is not interested in illegal fishing operations. Sea Shepherd will be there to intercept bluefin tuna poachers.
Effective next month, two Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ships will enter the waters off the coast of Libya, an area declared to be in a state of war as NATO-backed rebel forces struggle to topple the despotic dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with the goal of intercepting bluefin tuna poachers and freeing any illegally caught fish in attempt to save the species from nearing extinction.
The territorial waters off Libya are a declared a no-fly zone by NATO, which means there will be a distinct absence of poaching surveillance in the region. NATO is not interested in illegal fishing operations, and no European Union or International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) inspectors will be allowed into the Libyan zone.
The Greenpeace Foundation is not conducting a bluefin tuna campaign, meaning that the only protection for the highly endangered bluefin tuna will be at the presence of two Sea Shepherd’s vessels: the flagship Steve Irwin and the soon to be renamed fast interceptor vessel. The only non-military aircraft in this zone will be Sea Shepherd’s helicopter the Nancy Burnet onboard the Steve Irwin.
This will be a dangerous campaign but the bluefin tuna are facing extinction within a few years unless they are effectively protected, and Sea Shepherd will not fail them. Last year, during the first Operation Blue Rage Campaign in 2010, Sea Shepherd crewmembers located and intervened against an illegal poaching operation freeing approximately 800 bluefins.
President of Sea Shepherd France, Lamya Essemlali, attended a meeting with the European Commission Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries on May 6, 2011. As a result, the commission will follow Sea Shepherd’s campaign activities in June; Sea Shepherd will also prepare a complete progress report for the commission at the end of their campaign. Prior to taking action to release any unlawful catches, Sea Shepherd will confer with the commission regarding the potential illegality of the intercepted vessels.