Photos © Mike Markovina

JD Kotze and Mike Markovina are featured characters in the Ocean Warriors series now showing on Animal Planet. The series features their work with the Multi Agency Task Team in Tanzania over a number of episodes, focusing on the work they are doing to investigate and apprehend those involved with blast fishing on the Tanzanian coast.

Blast fishing has totally devastating effects. It kills coral reefs, destroys the vitality of the reef ecosystem including many species of fish and undermines the ability of already vulnerable and poor people to make a living from the ocean. JD Kotze commented, “blast fishing is one of the most senseless and destructive fishing practices and is causing major damage to the Tanzanian coastal areas. The easy availability of dynamite has to be stopped and the criminal networks who are profiting from this destruction must be bought to account.”

The episodes in this series show a number of arrests and substantive insight into the individuals and syndicates involved in these crimes. Building on these investigations JD and Mike are now putting together a follow up operation through Stop Illegal Fishing, which aims to target all the major blast fishing hot spots in Tanzania and the kingpins behind these crimes. An operation that, combined with a widespread awareness campaign, aims to eliminate blast fishing from Tanzania for good.

“The MATT has doing great work in Tanzania, but there is more still to be done,” said Mike Markovina. “The initiative started as part of the Indian Ocean Commission’s SmartFish project who supported the establishment of this targeted inter agency group. Getting buy in from the authorities was crucial and the results speak for themselves. With 60 arrests and 5312 explosive cartridges seized to date we know that our work has already had an impact. The explosive cartridges seized would have been used to explode 26 tons of urea (Fertilizer and Diesel mix) bombs for fishing purposes! The seizures stopped these bombs from being used in the ocean. We hope that, by working with Stop Illegal Fishing we will build on this success.”

Ocean Warriors premieres Sunday, December 4 at 9pm Eastern Time with back-to-back episodes. The series will air outside of the US in January 2017.