Wednesday, 8 April 2015
Photos: Nigerian ship reportedly sunk deliberately to hide evidence of illegal activities
The Nigerian-flagged Thunder was being tracked by activists from the charity Sea Shepherd, who believed it was engaged in illegal fishing.
Bob Barker's captain Peter Hammarstedt said:
'It is an incredibly suspicious situation, to say the least.
'When my chief engineer boarded the Thunder in the hours leading up to the sinking, he was able to confirm that there were clear signs that the vessel was intentionally scuttled.Usually when a vessel is sinking, the captain will close all hatches so as to maintain buoyancy. However, on the Thunder, the reverse was done - doors and hatches were tied open and the fishhold was opened.'Hammarstedt said Thunder's captain, who was not named, complained about being rescued and 'started applauding and cheering' when the vessel sank.
He told the Sydney Morning Herald:
'We've been chasing the Thunder for 110 days now, and I think they're basically at the end of their fuel, and they would have had to make a port call
'I think the captain of the Thunder made the decision that he preferred the physical evidence on board... was better on the ocean bottom than going into port with him. Thunder, on a list of boats deemed to have engaged in illegal, unreported, or unregulated fishing activities by multi-national body the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), is suspected of illegal fishing for Patagonian toothfish and other rare species in the Antarctic.
Toothfish is sold as Chilean sea bass, which is popular in high-end restaurants. It sells primarily in the United States, Europe and Japan, although there is also a growing market in China.