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Fifteen Chinese fishing boats have been caught with thousands of sharks in Timor-Leste waters in a joint raid by local police and activist group Sea Shepherd.

Key points:
  • Sea Shepherd says boats were “supposed to be catching fish” but clearly targeting sharks
  • Boats have been operating under licence from Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry
  • Sea Shepherd patrolling to ensure boats do not leave Timor-Leste waters

Sea Shepherd’s Timor-Leste campaign leader Gary Stokes said the group’s Ocean Warrior helped armed Timor-Leste National Police (PNTL) officers conduct a raid on Saturday morning.

“We found thousands and thousands of sharks on every single vessel,” he said.

“They were setting bottom gill nets that were basically weighted to the sea bed.

“They were supposed to be catching fish, but it was very, very clear that they were just targeting sharks.”

East Timor is a very poor country and they have no naval assets at all, no patrol vessels, no warships to go out and patrol their waters,” he said.

“These vessels basically have carte blanche to cruise their waters and take whatever they want.”