Dozens Of Fishing Boats 'Ambush' Sea Shepherd Conservation Ship
Environmental organisation the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says one of its vessels was attacked by about 35 fishing boats in Mexico's Gulf of California.
In a video posted by the group, dozens of small fishing boats can be seen pursuing the Farley Mowat, a Sea Shepherd ship used in campaigns against the illegal fishing activity threatening the vaquita marina.
The vaquita marina is the world's smallest and most endangered porpoise. Experts estimate just 15 remain the gulf, the only place they exist. The marine mammal is on the very edge of extinction.
Fisherman threw lead weights, dead fish and even Tabasco sauce at the Farley Mowat, Sea Shepherd said in a statement, and tried to douse the ship with gasoline while it conducted patrols inside the Vaquita Refuge.
The video also showed some of the fishing boats carrying gill nets, which are used to illegally catch totoaba fish and are banned within the reserve.
While vaquita marina are not specifically hunted, they become entangled in the nets set to catch totoaba, which are critically endangered and prized for their swim bladders as a Chinese delicacy.
Crew members aboard the Farley Mowat can be seen using a hose to fight off some of the smaller boats, while some fisherman reportedly boarded the ship and attempted to carry off items.
"Poachers then dropped an illegal gillnet in front of the bow of the moving Sea Shepherd vessel in an attempt to foul the ship’s propellers," Sea Shepherd said.
The environmental organisation patrols in the Gulf of California to help detect illegal nets with the cooperation of the Mexican government. Due to the Gulf's remoteness, it is difficult to police illegal fishing.
Sea Shepherd are best known for its confrontations with Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean, attempting to block Japan's ships from killing in the Antarctic whale sanctuary.