Commentary by Sea Shepherd Captain Peter Hammarstedt about the horrible living conditions of the crew onboard an industrial fishing vessel arrested for illegal fishing in The Gambia.
On the 27th of August, Gambian fisheries inspectors and The Gambia Navy - supported by Sea Shepherd crew on board the M/Y Sam Simon - arrested the F/V Victory 205, a trawler with several documented cases of illegal fishing in a Special Management Area reserved for artisanal fishermen in The Gambia, West Africa. Gambian law enforcement agents also uncovered some of the worst living conditions that I've come across while assisting African coastal States with boardings and inspections at sea.
Photographs show a so-called living accommodation that packed the largely Sierra Leonean crew into a crawl space between the engine room and the wheelhouse. Heated from the temperature of the main engine below, I, personally, could barely spend more than a couple of minutes inside this steel oven lined with soiled mattresses without enough space to even sit up straight. The head, or ship's toilet, served the dual-purpose of a shower as well; a single grimy bucket was used for both flushing and washing.
Given the unsanitary conditions on board, the Sam Simon's Medical Officer had to treat a couple of the F/V Victory 205 fishers for infections. The F/V Victory 205 now sits detained in the port of Banjul facing legal action. I am grateful to the leadership of Gambia's Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources for pursuing both environmental justice - and justice for the crew onboard the F/V Victory 205.