Color can trap shark butchers

09 May, 2022

The state’s veterinary medical institution in Uppsala may have found perhaps the most important clue in the investigation into who dumped protected spiny sharks and rays in the harbor of Lysekil earlier this year. On some sharks they were able to scrape off what is believed to be red bottom paint. Together with comparison samples from boats in Lysekil, they are now on their way to the NFC National Forensic Center for analysis.

The head of the preliminary investigation, Chamber Prosecutor James von Reis, tells Deep Sea Reporter: – In my experience as a prosecutor, such colors have a unique mixture that could give an indication of an identity and lead to a conviction.

It was a group of high school students who at the end of March discovered the dead and dying spiny sharks on the bottom in the harbor of Lysekil. Since then, a preliminary investigation into suspected serious fisheries crime has been ongoing. When it comes to bycatch of protected species, the law is clear, they must be immediately released back into the sea. That obviously hasn’t happened here.

In addition to the paint residue, investigators are using information from AIS – a system for tracking the movement of boats at sea – along with defense radar surveillance. With the help of that information, you can see quite precisely how and where the fishing boats moved in the area. And also how long the boats have been stationary in one place.

– Typically speaking, they must remain at sea to immediately remove protected species from the fishing gear and reintroduce them. And it takes some time, says James von Reis,

According to James von Reis, the penalty for serious fishing crime is so-called standardized fines.

– It is a penalty that only exists in the case of commercial fishing offenses and can amount to a lot of money, because it is not based on the annual income, but is related to the engine power of the vessel.

Text: Lena Scherman
Photo: Tobias Dahlin

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