Get ready for an epic tale that sounds like it’s been taken straight from a superhero movie.

After a series of intense marine anti-poaching operations that began in 2014 entitled “Operation Icefish,” Sea Shepherd announced that it has finally shut down illegal fishing in Antarctica! But it was no simple feat. The team had to track down and destroy a group of illegal ships, the “Bandit Six,” which have been able to evade increased fishing restrictions or law enforcement for the past decade. Every year, the vessels lay illegal fishing nets in Antarctica, bring their catch back home, and change their identities before heading back to Antarctica.

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These tactics are especially worrying, considering the Bandit Six use methods such as catching fish with gillnets. Gillnets, which float vertically in the water like a floating spider web, are particularly destructive to our oceans. These large nets are dragged across large areas of water, entangling everything in its path. They’re used to catch large amounts of fish at once, but unfortunately, they also catch unintended victims, or “bycatch,” such as seabirds, dolphins, sharks, and other marine animals.

Despite the sly tactics of the Bandit Six, Sea Shepherd managed to finally put these illegal activities to an end. One Sea Shepherd ship confiscated a whopping 72 kilometers of gillnets, while another pursued the Thunder, a notorious illegal vessel, for 110 days straight, until they were able to sink the ship off the coast of Western Africa! One illegal vessel had been sunk by the Indonesian navy in March, and the four remaining vessels are currently being detained.

“Until the UN and other nations of the world can agree that there needs to be firm enforcement regimes on the high seas,” says Sea Shepherd’s Siddharth Chakravarty in this video. “Sea Shepherd will continue to send its ships and enforce international conservation law on the world’s oceans.”

Watch the epic mission here!

Not ready to hop on a ship and join the Sea Shepherd team? You can still make a difference!

The best way we can all ensure that fish and people are protected is to be more mindful of the impact our food has on our planet and others. We all have a role to play when it comes to using our dollars to speak up for animals, people, and the planet. By keeping fish off our plates, we can all help end this illegal market!