Fishing boats with illegitimate 18-mile long nets were caught, according to a report published on April 9, 2018.
There were 600 illegal nets stretching up to 18 miles in the fishing boat. After escaping from the Chinese authorities, it has been seized now. A cod species called Antarctic toothfish was the target of the vessel, STS-50 and these species are found to play an important role in the Southern Ocean ecosystem. Its hundreds of gillnets had walls of fine mesh and could expand to a distance of 18 miles. In 2006, gillnetting was banned in Antarctic waters and Australia had found it to be a major risk to marine life. The use of the nets also harm seabirds including endangered albatrosses.
Last week, Indonesia was contacted by the Interpol with a request to investigate the vessel. Susi Pudjiastuti, fisheries minister said, “Navy ship Simeuleu conducted a ‘stop, investigate and detain’ operation on Friday and successfully seized the vessel.” Previously, STS-50 had been retarded by China, then escaped and was again caught in the port of Maputo in Mozambique before fleeing again.
When the boat was captured, STS-50 had 20 Indonesian and Russian crew. In 2016, Interpol was assisted by Indonesia to capture a giant Chinese-flagged vessel that had evaded Argentina’s navy and fled into international waters. In the same year, a giant illegal toothfish fishing vessel that was operated using 12 different names and flown flags of eight different countries were sunk by Indonesia. Fishing of Antarctic toothfish is governed by the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources that prohibits fishing by gillnet and imposes strict rules on catches in the Southern Ocean.