We remember the KUNLUN: The poacher ship expires in Dakar.
Monday, December 23, 2019: Nine months after the THUNDER sank in the Gulf of Guinea, the KUNLUN in Senegal was arrested when its crew tried to unload illegally caught Antarctic cod. The decaying ship is a monument to the worldwide efforts to smash the “Bandit 6” poaching fleet.
Commentary by Captain Peter Hammarstedt.
I felt the greasy layer of rust and dirt crunch under my feet as I stepped onto the deck of the ASIAN WARRIOR, known to me by its former name KUNLUN, in the port of Dakar in West Africa.
In 2014 the KUNLUN was part of the “Bandit 6”. Together with the now infamous trawl ship THUNDER, these six poacher ships looted the Arctic Ocean to Antarctica.
Nine months after the THUNDER sank in the Gulf of Guinea, the KUNLUN in Senegal was arrested when its crew tried to unload illegally caught Antarctic cod. The decaying ship is a monument to the worldwide efforts to smash the “Bandit 6” poaching fleet.
While my crew and I were chasing the THUNDER from Antarctica through the dangerous waters of the Southern Ocean to the north on BOB BARKER, Captain Siddharth Chakravarty and his crew took care of the KUNLUN hundreds of miles to the southeast on the SAM SIMON.
The SAM SIMON crew led KUNLUN out of the Antarctic fishing grounds and then handed over evidence-relevant documents to Interpol and the New Zealand authorities.
Due to their long history of violations of fishing laws and their connection to the well-known Spanish crime syndicate, Vidal Armadores, to whom the ship belonged, they also searched for KUNLUN.
Like the THUNDER, Interpol searched the KUNLUN with a purple alarm, a wanted list that alerted the police authorities worldwide. This has been requested by New Zealand, Australian and Norwegian authorities.
The sister ships of the KUNLUN named YONGDING and SONGHUA were later seized on Cape Verde.
During a routine visit to Mindelo, I reported to Interpol, the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industry and the Cape Verde judicial authorities that they were in port. Almost four years later, the two ships still remain in Cape Verde.
To get to the KUNLUN bridge, I had to climb over a mattress belonging to the Senegalese security guard, the lonely guardian of the ship. The console on the bridge has long been an empty case. All the electronic equipment for navigation was torn out, including the radar on which KUNLUN was able to track the position of the SAM SIMON.
Captain Peter Hammarstedt.
If you look ahead, the ship has a slight flip to the port, as opposed to the starboard tilt that the THUNDER accepted before sinking. The THUNDER was deliberately sunk by its own captain Luis Alfonso Rubio Cataldo, who made this unfortunate decision to destroy evidence.
The captain from Chile, Luis Alfonso Rubio Cataldo, the leading engineer Agustin Dosil Rey from Spain and the second mechanic Luis Miguel Perez Fernandez, also from Spain, were sentenced to two years and eleven months in prison and to a fine of 15 million euros for forging documents, pollution and damage, and for neglectful conduct.
Nobody appiered to request the KUNLUN. The ship remains in the custody of the Senegalese government, whose use in fixing the ship was commendable.
In its decay, the former phantom now appears very real. Everything mystical that once surrounded the ship disappears with the actual decay.
If we ever have doubts that civil society, in cooperation with governments, is capable of stopping illegal fishing, all we have to do is look at this sad, dilapidated steel block that was once KUNLUN in Dakar.
And we remember the depths of the Gulf of Guinea, where the THUNDER lies 3,800 meters below sea level, at the same depth that the TITANIC sank.
„The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a conservative organization.
I am a conservative. You can’t get more conservative than being a conservationist. Our entire raison de être is to conserve and protect.
The radicals of the world are destroying our oceans and our forests, our wildlife and our freedom.“ (Captain Paul Watson)
My best regards to all, Venus