Operation Blue Rage: Crossing the Line of Death
Day Six of the Mediterranean Patrol
Sunday, June 13th, 2010
Location: In the Gulf of Sidra off the Coast of Libya
Report by Captain Paul Watson
Sea Shepherd has crossed the “Line of Death,” and we are now inside the waters claimed by Libya.
The line of death in the Gulf of Sidra was the line Libyan President Gaddafi drew in the early seventies. The line is 33 degrees and 30 minutes North.
Last night, I had the ship stopped for the night to drift. We resumed our patrol through Libyan waters at dawn.
We decided it would not be wise to deploy the helicopter on any long-range reconnaissance missions in Libyan waters knowing that the Libyan military would consider it a hostile aircraft. It was a U.S. Naval dogfight with Libyan MIG Soviet fighter aircraft in August 1981 that inspired the movie Top Gun.
We suspect that below the line of death in the Gulf of Sidra that the slaughter of the species Thunnus thynnus (bluefin tuna) is underway. Not that Libya is alone in over exploiting the bluefin: the entire Mediterranean has become a killing ground for this magnificent fish and the line between legal and illegal fishing is becoming blurred. The bottom line is that just one of these fish is worth a great deal of money, and greed is the motivation for what is an industry that is investing in extinction.
Around midday, we came upon the Libyan seiner Misurata towing a net. The helicopter and the Delta inflatable were deployed, divers were sent into the cage, and it was found that the cage was empty.
The Steve Irwin continued its patrol of the waters claimed by Libya. These waters have never been investigated before. The weather is changing and tomorrow marks the last official day for legally taking bluefin tuna by everyone in the Mediterranean, including the Libyans.
We are suspicious of the “legal” fishery. We have seen far too many cages of tuna for the tonnage allotted. All of these boats claim to be licensed and they all seem to be registered as legal. There are simply too many fishing boats for a quota of only 13,000 tons. Something is not right with the entire picture.
So far we have had not had any contact with Libyan authorities.
Our patrol continues.