The patrol boat Albacore carries several people in bright orange life jackets.
The Albacore.

On June 27, 2024, in a significant milestone for marine conservation, WildAid unveiled a new patrol boat, named “Albacore,” during a ceremony in Libreville, Gabon. This 9.5-meter, 2x100HP vessel was presented to Gabon’s General Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture (DGPA), marking a new chapter in the battle against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Gabon’s waters. 

The Albacore: A beacon of hope 

The Albacore was designed to swiftly and efficiently patrol the vast expanse of Gabon’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which covers over 200,000 square kilometers. This enhanced capacity will enable Gabonese officers to monitor and respond to illegal activities more effectively, ensuring the protection of the nation’s invaluable marine resources. 

“We are very proud to collaborate with the DGPA in their efforts to combat IUU fishing and to provide our unwavering support,” said Laurence Wozniak, WildAid Project Manager for Gabon and São Tomé and Principe.  

During the ceremony, the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries, Jonathan Ignoumba, emphasized how the Albacore will empower Gabon’s Fishery Inspectors. These dedicated officers have undergone comprehensive training provided by WildAid, preparing them to use the new boat effectively, strengthening their capability to enforce existing regulations, and enhancing their ability to patrol Gabon’s coastal and offshore waters. 

Minister Jonathan Ignoumba and WildAid’s Laurence Wozniak at the June 27 ceremony.

Protecting Gabon’s marine treasures

Gabon boasts some of the richest and most diverse marine ecosystems in the world. The waters surrounding Gabon are a sanctuary for a vast array of wildlife, including the world’s largest nesting population of leatherback sea turtles, critically endangered humpback dolphins, and calving grounds for humpback whales. Additionally, Gabon is home to over 50 species of sharks and rays. Its old-growth mangrove forests serve as vital carbon sinks, storm buffers, and nurseries for myriad fish, crabs, and shrimp, supporting both the ecosystem and the coastal communities that rely on them. 

Despite these natural treasures, Gabon’s marine resources are under threat from IUU fishing. This illicit activity not only devastates marine life but also results in an estimated $610 million net loss to Gabon’s GDP annually. To combat this, enforcement officers must have the proper training and equipment to safeguard their waters effectively.

A leatherback turtle nests on a beach in Gabon.

The Albacore’s mission and impact

With the Albacore’s ability to cover vast distances quickly, it will play a crucial role in monitoring fishing activities and conducting inspections. One of its key tasks will be inspecting artisanal fishing canoes to ensure compliance with fishing regulations. This will protect both the local fishermen’s livelihoods and the sustainability of fish stocks. 

Since partnering with DGPA in 2022, WildAid has expanded its surveillance and enforcement from just four Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to covering Gabon’s entire coastline and EEZ. The Albacore will enhance the protection of these critical habitats, ensuring the continued survival of Gabon’s diverse marine life.  

A way forward 

Just before Thursday’s ceremony, WildAid and DGPA signed a new project agreement to continue collaborating for 12 more months. The agreement includes WildAid support for supplies and training to help DGPA increase the number of patrols.

In Laurence’s words, “We will be able to continue to do great things together, we will increase the number of patrols on the water, continue to organize capacity building workshops for inspectors, and provide uniforms for fishing inspectors.”

The Albacore is more than just a boat; it symbolizes the collective efforts and support of WildAid’s dynamic donors, who believe in preserving Gabon’s incredible marine biodiversity. This vessel will be a game-changer in the fight against illegal fishing. 


Stay in touch and get the latest WildAid updates.


About WildAid

WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $308 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too. 

Journalists on deadline may email