New cooperative partnership between Sea Shepherd and Guatemalan Government is an exemplar of transnational cooperation between law enforcement agencies and conservation groups in combating illegal trade in marine wildlife.
By Charles Paxton
According to the above-linked Tico Times article, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a non-profit organisation, protecting marine life around the world since 1977, will now be working with Guatemalan Naval and Police officers in a new partnership to jointly patrol Guatemala’s Pacific coast in renewed efforts to prevent illegal commercial Marlin fishing during the Guatemalan closed season.
Sea Shepherd’s 115 ft Interceptor Vessel, The Brigitte Bardot , manned by eight Sea Shepherd crew and Guatemalan Naval and police officers will be operating from Port San José in Escuíntla.
Why Patrol Guatemala’s Southern Pacific Coast?
Guatemala has prohibited commercial fishing of Marlin during the high season but has had difficulty in enforcing the law. It is important for Guatemala to control the harvest of Pacific Marlin because they are heavily targeted. Marlin are a type of ‘Billfish’, they have a spike on their nose like swordfish and sailfish. It’s hoped that patrols will prevent illegal fishing.
In addition to protecting the Marlin, the joint patrol project will also work to rescue sea turtles and other marine life from death by incidental capture on long lines, capture of non-target species is known as ‘bycatch’ (see more on bycatch generally from The Marine Conservation Society) and specific mention of sea turtle deaths from long-line bycatch in Guatemala by Sea Shepherd. Sea turtles can drown on the hooks and may even die after being cut free if they still retain hooks trapped in their throats according to Sea Shepherd’s web page.
This is an important step forward in the spirit of determination for greater cooperation to fight the illegal wildlife trade expressed at CITES COP 16.
Want to follow progress on this? click here to view Sea Shepherd’s Central America Facebook page
Click here to view Sea Shepherd’s website