In September last year, the Greenpeace campaign ship Arctic Sunrise was scanning the mid-Atlantic ocean, thousands of kilometres from anywhere. On board, investigators were looking for vessels that were doing their best not to be found.
One of them was Taiwanese fishing boat, the Hung Hwa – a longliner capable of running baited lines more than 100 kilometres (62 miles) in length, targeting mainly tuna species. It had turned off its satellite locator, the Automatic Identification System (AIS).
It had “gone dark”.
A fishing vessel might do that to avoid competition from other boats or to prevent attack by pirates. But often it coincides with a transhipment at sea – the offloading of a fishing boat’s catch onto what is known as a reefer, or