However, Gary Stokes, the Asia Director of Sea Shepherd, said he feared high-level deals and corruption from officials would mean the crew would escape punishment and continue their illegal fishing practices.
“Sadly the good work of the PNTL and Sea Shepherd will be in vain and these poachers will dodge justice once more,” said Stokes.
At the request of the PNTL, Sea Shepherd’s patrol vessel M/Y Ocean Warrior and its small fast boat delivered armed police to board the vessels, along with drones to document the operation.
The raid followed a two-week monitoring operation, where Sea Shepherd crew documented the fishing fleet using illegal fishing practices and catching endangered and protected shark.
The raid was made 150 kilometres south of Timor-Leste near Com, where the fleet was anchored using gill nets set to target bottom dwelling species such as sharks.
Over 95 per cent of the fishing fleet’s haul were shark, as well as broken rare coral, according to Sea Shepherd statement.
The raid follows the same vessel being found offloading massive quantities of protected shark, turtles and rays of the southeast coast of Timor-Leste onto its mother ship, the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999.
The Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 made international headlines last month when it was detained inside the Galapagos National Park with 300 tons of sharks which it had received from four longliners belonging to Hong Long Fisheries and Pingtan Marine Enterprises.
The crew of the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 are now in an Ecuadorian jail and the ship impounded, scheduled to be sold off.
The company who owns the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999, Hong Long Fisheries, were granted a fishing license by the Timorese government in November 2016.
Speaking in support for stamping out illegal fishing practices, former president Dr. José Ramos-Horta said: “Unscrupulous foreign commercial fishing activities must be stopped in Timor-Leste.”
“We must protect our natural resources, it is an outrage.”