The two trawlers possessed fishing licenses for Sierra Leone but not for Guinea-Conakry where they had recorded fishing positions. The two trawlers were escorted to the Sierra Leonean capital of Freetown by Age of Union where they remain detained more than three weeks later.
The arrests follow the apprehension of a 65-meter purse seiner named Sea Frontier, which was illegally deploying fish aggregating devices (FADs) in Sierra Leonean waters.
The subsequent time that Sea Frontier spent detained in port—during judicial proceedings–is estimated to have prevented the netting of at least 160,000 individual tuna, the majority of which would have been below reproductive age.
A FAD is a floating object, usually made of plastic, that attracts fish. Sonar and satellite communications equipment fitted to the high-tech FAD alert fishing vessels to the presence of fish. FADs are problematic because they lead to higher numbers of by-catch, or the unintentional…