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Friday, 22 Sep, 2017
Today in Dili, Timor Leste (East Timor) the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Estanislau Aleixo da Silva, has suspended the fishing license of Hong Long Fisheries within the waters of Timor Leste while a full investigation is carried out into the company and its fishing activities. Sea Shepherd Global would like to commend the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries in taking such a strong step.
This suspension is on the grounds of information provided by neighboring Indonesia which is only related to the company itself and not to the fishing activities for tons of shark confirmed in a raid this month. The investigation is based around the registry status of the majority of the vessels that may be in breach of Article 92 of the UNCLOS whereby a vessel may not be registered in more than one flag state. If this is the case, the vessel is deemed stateless or without a flag, making them pirate vessels. Also the investigation is looking to see any connections with other known Hong Long vessels that have been involved in illegal fishing.
The government's action arose after the second controversy this year based around the fleet. On the 9th September the fleet was found targeting sharks during a joint raid by the Policia Nacionale Timor Leste (PNTL) and Sea Shepherd Global. Sea Shepherd sent its vessel the MV Ocean Warrior to hunt down and expose this Hong Long fleet with the intention of showing the people of Timor Leste what was happening in its offshore waters.
Together with detailed information from Indonesia, a full investigation is being carried out by the PNTL today to establish what is onboard these vessels and whether any listed protected sharks were targeted.
Sea Shepherd is already in possession of evidence of CITES App 1 & CITES App 2 species documented onboard and has handed over the evidence to the PNTL Investigation team.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the Hong Long fleet are acting illegally and against the terms of the fishing license granted in good faith by the Fisheries Minister of Timor Leste,” said Gary Stokes, the Campaign Leader for Operation Apex Harmony 2017 - Timor Leste.
However the Hong Long fleet are not alone. The crew of the Ocean Warrior also documented a second fleet, that has also been granted a license, using illegal drift nets that exceed international laws. Details have also been handed over to the PNTL.
Sea Shepherd’s Ocean Warrior is standing by to assist the Timorese Government should they request.