The Captain and two crew members of the Thunder, an illegal fishing boat, were fined the extraordinary amount of $17 million by a court on the African island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe.
After an amazing and dramatic chase that covered nearly 10,000 miles of ocean, the environmental group Sea Shepherd cornered the Thunder off the coast of West Africa.
The 110-day chase ended with the sinking of the offending ship in the waters off the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe, but not before the criminals could be rescued by the Sea Shepherd crew itself.
Local prosecutors and Sea Shepherd officials have speculated that the sinking was the act of the ship’s captain as a means of disposing evidence.
Frederique Samba Viegas D’Abreu, the attorney general of São Tomé and Príncipe said “This isn’t just a victory for our country it’s a victory for the oceans and against these international crime syndicates that have operated for too long above the law.”
In December 2014 the blacklisted vessel was wanted for deploying its nets in a protected region of the Southern Ocean in an attempt to catch Patagonian toothfish, a species often sold in western countries as Chilean sea bass.
Illegal fishing can cost more than $20 billion annually to the world and it’s said that one in every five fish caught and then imported by the US has been harvested illegally.