The Great Factory Killer


The Atlantic Dawn. Image source:

The Atlantic Dawn. The name sounds almost comforting, doesn’t it? Well, rest assured after you finish reading this you’re not going to feel the same way. The Atlantic Dawn (also known as Annelies Ilena) was one of the world’s largest factory freezer trawlers, weighing in at over 14,055 tonnes and at a length of 144 meters. Basically, picture the Harbour Center building in Vancouver. Now, put it on its side, lay it in the water, outfit it with two 9655bhp engines, trawling nets hundreds of meters long and onboard freezing, filleting and refrigeration facilities.

What’s so bad about all that?

Trawling is arguably the most intensive way to fish. Large nets with weights are dragged along the ocean floor, essentially catching everything in their path. The nets destroy the ocean floor habitat, and also drag up countless species of fish and invertebrates that are not utilized by people, which are generally discarded overboard at sea. The Atlantic Dawn was able to catch and process up to 400 tonnes of fish per day and could stay out to sea for up to five weeks, with a potential capacity of 7000 tonnes of fish per trip.

What happened to the Atlantic Dawn?


Repainted and renamed the Annelies Ilena, still fishing today. Image source:

Immediately after being built in Norway, the ship was not able to secure a license to fish in EU waters. Eventually a private license was granted to fish in Mauritanian waters for nine months of the year, and the other three months in EU waters. After five years of this, and with changes in government in Mauritania, the boat was boarded and the owners were fined $100,000 for fishing in an exclusion zone. The ship had been diminishing catches for local people in the area for some time, and was known by locals as ‘The Ship from Hell’.

WATCH: footage of the Atlantic Dawn in action:

Certainly it must be gone now?!

The ship has now been repainted, re-named the Annelies Ilena and is now registered as a Dutch boat. It still trawls in various locations around the world.  In fact, the Annelies Ilena actually fished in British Columbia waters for some time in 2012. Well, maybe vacuuming British Columbia waters is a more accurate way to put it. In 2013 the ship was again detained in Irish waters for breaking European fishing laws. At the time of this writing, it is fishing north of Scotland, dragging up whatever it can from the bottom of the sea.

LINK: Where the Atlantic Dawn is now:

Some of the impacts of bottom trawling.   Image source:

Some of the impacts of bottom trawling. Image source:

There are 38,400 trawlers with a displacement of more than 100 tonnes throughout the world’s oceans. These boats destroy habitat, kill non-commercially viable long-lived species and leave very little alive in their wake. Lets put an end to this destructive, non-sustainable way of fishing.

Sign the petition to stop trawling the deep sea here.


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