1st December 2001
The Canadian warship is still around, and although they might aim to sneak up on the fishing vessels with stealth, that couldn’t be further from the truth. All of the ships out here talk, and so the minute the first trawler was boarded, or the warship was first sighted by one of the ships in the fleet, their cover was blown and the radio was alive with mutterings about the pending inspections.
Fisherman are an unusual bunch. They are fiercely protective of their ‘marks’ or good fishing spots, such that sometimes they won’t share their marks with close family, friends, or colleagues working for the same company. Miguel tells me of one captain he knows who doesn’t give away information to his own brother, who is himself a captain on another fishing boat. So in one sense they are fiercely independent, but conversely they will help each other out in other ways in the blink of an eye. Warning other vessels about the presence of a fishery patrol is one of them, I guess it’s the equivalent of flashing your lights at other road users when you have just driven past a police car with a speed gun.
No comms over the radio are private. Any other ship or land base can listen in if they are within range, so when the ships want to say something over the radio that they don’t want others to know about, they use a coding system. Each vessel belonging to the same company, or perhaps between a group of friendly vessels, have the same code matrix. The matrix gives a code word for each commonly used term. Species names, numbers and locations can all be passed over the radio in a way that other vessels without the code matrix won’t understand. It’s not quite as sophisticated as an enigma machine but it’s quite ingenious really.