Sea Shepherd is calling on cruise companies visiting the Faroe Islands to show their opposition to the hunting of hundreds of pilot whales and dolphins each year by removing the Faroe Islands from their future cruise ship itineraries.
Sea Shepherd has been leading the opposition to the grindadráp (or ‘grind’ as these hunts are commonly called) since the early 1980s and is currently in the Faroe Islands for the organisation’s eleventh year with ‘Operation Bloody Fjords 2019’. As part of this campaign Sea Shepherd UK is appealing for cruise ship companies to publicly voice their opposition to the killing of around 850 pilot whales and dolphins each year by the Faroese.
Captain Paul Watson (Sea Shepherd’s Founder) and Rob Read (Chief Operating Officer of Sea Shepherd UK) and Helen Taylor (Ambassador of Sea Shepherd UK) have written to all sixteen cruise companies offering trips to the Faroe islands, requesting that they declare that the Faroes Islands will no longer be a port of call or destination of their ships until such times as the grindadráp is consigned to history.
Hvannasund grindadrap - 87 long finned pilot whales & 12 Atlantic White Sided Dolphins were killed on 16th August 2018
Letters (both hardcopy and by email) have been sent to the Chief Executives and Presidents of the following cruise companies: Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Hurtigruten, Viking Ocean Cruises, Silversea, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Phoenix Reisen, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Pullmantur, Seabourn, Nicko Cruises, Plantours Kreuzfahrten, Oceania Cruises and Windstar Cruises.
Watson and Read have explained that the hunts “can happen at any time, at any one of the 26 designated killing bays around the Faroe Islands…. with no season, no quota, a lack of effective regulation and despite pilot whale meat being heavily contaminated”. And that when the Faroese kill pilot whales and dolphins “every member of every pod is killed including pregnant mothers, juveniles and weaning babies. None are ever spared”.
Sea Shepherd crew are currently on the Faroe Islands engaging with tourists (including those arriving on the islands by cruise ship) and educating them about this barbaric activity and encouraging them to limit their spending on the islands in silent protest of the hunts.
Atlantic White Sided Dolphins of all ages killed in a grindadrap at Hvalvik - 11th September 2018
This year our crew in the Faroes is again filming, photographing and live-streaming the hunts to the web as well as working with mainstream TV crews, journalists and documentary makers to expose the dolphin hunts to a worldwide audience in several different languages.
In 2015 Sea Shepherd successfully persuaded two major German cruise-liner companies (AIDA and Hapag-Lloyd) to cancel their tours to the Faroe Islands because of the continued Faroese dolphin hunts. Despite this bold move - the number of cruise ships visiting the Faroes has increased dramatically in recent years largely due to a well-funded publicity drive by ‘Visit Faroe Islands’, the public face of the Faroe Islands' official tourist board - describing the islands as “Europe’s best kept secret”.
“If the cruise companies back this campaign and stop taking tourists to the Faroe Islands this will significantly impact the islands’ economy. Combined with Sea Shepherd UK’s continuous exposure of this issue, it is hoped our efforts will finally force the Danish Government and Faroese Parliament to call a final halt to these unnecessary and cruel hunts” - Rob Read, Chief Operating Officer, Sea Shepherd UK
Read the letter sent to the cruise companies HERE
- 536 long finned pilot whales and 7 Atlantic white sided dolphins killed in the Danish Faroe Islands so far in 2019. The first hunt of a family of 70 pilot whales on New Year’s Day immediately lost the Faroese a One Million Euros incentive to end the Grindadráp (100,000 Euros each year for 10 consecutive years if there was zero cetacean kills) which was offered by Sea Shepherd UK on the 28th September 2018.
- Over the last decade, a total of 7,744 small cetaceans of 5 different species have lost their lives in the Faroe Islands in grindadráp hunts.
- In 2008, an article in the New Scientist told how Faroe chief medical officers Pál Weihe and Høgni Debes Joensen deemed whale meat unsafe for human consumption because of high mercury content. They told how mercury poisoning could trigger a range of ailments including fetal neural development, high blood pressure, circulatory problems and possible infertility.
To read more about this campaign and view images of the grindadráp hunts which Sea Shepherd UK have photographed in 2017 and 2018 visit: https://www.seashepherd.org.uk/campaigns/operation-bloody-fjords/
For more details on our cruise ship campaign visit: https://www.seashepherd.org.uk/campaigns/operation-bloody-fjords/cruise-ship-companies-stand-up-for-dolphins-and-pilot-whales.html
Scuba Diving International (SDI) and Sea Shepherd team up to develop and launch the first accredited ‘GHOSTNET RECOVERY’ speciality course
PRESS RELEASE – 16th August 2019
Scuba Diving international are very proud to work with Sea Shepherd UK to develop a’ Ghostnet Recovery’ speciality course. Ghostnets are a huge problem in our oceans. Fishing nets, lines and pots are often lost by fisherman as part of their daily operations. These continue to catch fish and other marine life long after they have been lost. As divers we see the problems that this lost gear causes but we also have the opportunity to get involved in trying to clean up at least some of these lost nets.
The Sea Shepherd UK Ghostnet campaign has been incredibly successful in recovering large amounts of Ghostnets and gear as well as engaging in outreach and education on the issue. More and more divers want to get involved in the project - but there are significant risks in lifting Ghostnets and it is essential that proper training is provided before anyone attempts to lift a net or other lost/discarded fishing gear. By Sea Shepherd teaming up with SDI this allows specially trained instructors to provide a recognised training program which covers all of the surveying, lifting techniques and safety considerations required to perform this activity.
The SDI Sea Shepherd Ghostnet Recovery course has been developed with Sea Shepherd and active SDI instructors involved in the project and formalises the training program that has been delivered to already Sea Shepherd UK’s volunteer divers.
SDI is recognised worldwide and is a member of the WRSTC, RSTC-US, RSTC-Europe. It is accredited by the EUF as meeting all relevant EN and ISO standards. In addition, SDI was heavily involved in the creation of the new ISO standards on ‘Requirements for training on environmental awareness for recreational divers’ and ‘Requirements and guidance on sustainable practices in recreational diving’.
“Sea Shepherd is thrilled to be partnering with Scuba Diving International on this world’s first accredited ‘Ghostnet Retrieval’ speciality course. Our thanks goes especially to Tony Land (Sea Shepherd UK’s Ghostnet Campaign coordinator, dive instructor and technical diver), John Crawshaw (owner of Dive Manchester, SDI/TDI/PADI instructor) who have been working in cooperation with the renowned Mark Powell of DIVE-TECH who is a TDI Instructor, a member of TDI’s Global Training Advisor Panel, represents TDI on the British Diving Safety Group and on the HSE’s Recreational Diving Industry Committee – and is also a member of the Diver Training and Breathing Apparatus committees at the British Standards Institute” - Robert Read, Chief Operating Officer at Sea Shepherd UK
In January 2018 Sea Shepherd UK (marine conservation charity registration number 1110501) launched our Ghostnet Campaign to remove hazardous ghost fishing gear from coastal areas around England, Scotland and Wales.
Once lost or discarded, sections of fishing net and other fishing equipment can drift through the ocean or be left snagged on wrecks, rocks and reefs indiscriminately killing marine wildlife for decades.
Our Ghostnet campaign divers and crew work closely with the Marine Management Organisations and other relevant authorities in England, Scotland and Wales to ensure that ghost fishing equipment is removed safely, legally and without harm to the environment or wildlife.
Assigned year-round to the campaign are Sea Shepherd UK's RIBs:
‘Ghost’ - a twin 115hp engine 7.4m Atlantic 75
‘Phantom’ - a single 115hp engine 5.8m Humber Destroyer
with 'Siren' - a single 90hp engine 5.5m Humber Destroyer (in reserve)
All three boats are fitted with 3D structure scan sonar to pinpoint wrecks and to help identify and locate objects on or above the seafloor.
If you are a diver interested in joining Sea Shepherd UK’s Ghostnet campaign crew and would like to be accredited by SDI on this new speciality, or if you can donate a boat or dive equipment to the campaign - please contact Tony on: [email protected]
The student pre-requisites for the SDI Sea Shepherd Ghostnet Retrieval speciality course are:
- SDI Advanced Adventurer (or equivalent)
- Minimum age 21
- Documented proof of 100 logged dives
Read more about Scuba Diving International (SDI), the Scuba training and certification agency at:
View photos from the campaign at:
Follow the new campaign page on Facebook at:
If you can - please help support Sea Shepherd UK campaigns and boats by donating to our charity at: https://www.seashepherd.org.uk/support-us/donate-monthly.html
Forest Green Rovers have unveiled a striking new third kit for their cup games, inspired by Sea Shepherd – and to help raise vital funds for our work.
Omar Todd, Global Director of Special Operations and Rob Read, Chief Operating Officer of Sea Shepherd UK visited the club this week to meet Dale Vince, the Chairman of the club and Patron of Sea Shepherd UK, to celebrate the launch.
Why Forest Green Rovers has done this:
Forest Green Rovers is recognised as the “world’s greenest football club” by FIFA and likes to do things differently, with protecting the planet being at its core – as well as playing great football, of course!
Forest Green’s kits have proudly displayed Sea Shepherd’s iconic Jolly Roger logo since 2014 – and its flags have flown at The New Lawn Stadium over every game since.
This move is yet another step in the Forest Green Rovers mission to show the world of sport that there is ‘another way’, with all proceeds from the sales of this kit worldwide coming directly to Sea Shepherd – continuing our decade long relationship with Dale.
About the kit
This new strip has been created by PlayerLayer - using revolutionary 50% bamboo material, and the design having been inspired by the dazzle camouflage paintjob on Sea Shepherd’s vessel, the Steve Irwin and previously on the Bob Barker.
Where you’ll see it first
FGR will be wearing the kit in cup matches this season. Its maiden voyage will be the club’s Carabao Cup game against Charlton Athletic on Tuesday, 13th August.
How this will help Sea Shepherd
Dale Vince, chairman of Forest Green Rovers:
“Sea Shepherd are an amazing organisation, they’ve dedicated so much, often taking great risks - been shot at, had boats rammed and sunk - in the fight to save the lives of whales and marine life more generally. They prove that peaceful direct action, with emphasis on the action - gets results. This new shirt is to celebrate and support their work.”
Rob Read, Chief Operations Officer, Sea Shepherd UK:
“I can’t thank Dale and Forest Green Rovers enough for this hugely generous support for Sea Shepherd's marine conservation campaigns. This striking new FGR shirt launches during our latest campaign in the Faroe Islands, exposing to the world the continued barbaric hunting of over 800 Pilot Whales and Dolphins each year and our work legally and with targeted new pressure tactics to end these hunts.
“Back here in the UK the proceeds from the sale of the shirts will also be used to both upgrade our fleet of small boats used in particular on our rapidly developing 'Ghostnet Campaign' and on equipment for our 'Marine Debris Campaign'. So, many thanks to all FGR and Sea Shepherd supporters who buy one of these shirts. Your support really will help protect the oceans - and you’ll look very cool too!”
How to get hold of the kit
To pre-order your shirt visit here. Shipping worldwide begins from 19th August.
Supporting the club
If you would like to support Forest Green Rovers at their matches throughout the season, their fixtures list is here.
In addition, the club will be running a special ‘Sea Shepherd themed match’ - when playing Cheltenham at home on Saturday March 28th, 2020. More details are to follow.
Thanks for supporting us if you choose to buy this kit. We look forward to spotting you in the crowd!
Over 150 Fin Whales Spared from Slaughter in 2019.
Reykjavik, Iceland – June 8th, 2019 – In a significant win for cetaceans, the government of Iceland has not issued a permit to allow Hvalur Hf to hunt fin whales this year, sparing over 150 whales from slaughter. The Fisheries Minister published regulations setting whaling quotas in February but did not actually issue the permit to Hvalur allowing it to use the quota.
Sea Shepherd closely monitored Hvalur’s activities in 2018, documenting the death of at least 146 whales, including two rare blue/fin hybrid whales as well as 21 pregnant whales. During the 2018 season and in past years, the whaling company has violated numerous regulations – all of which have now been brought to the attention of the Icelandic government.
The Icelandic government has also been made aware of a new scientific study, indicating its whaling quotas are based on grossly overestimated whale population assessments.
Reached in New York, on World Ocean’s Day, Sea Shepherd Founder Captain Paul Watson proclaimed, “Sea Shepherd has an enduring commitment to defending whales. Our primary objective is 100% eradication of the barbaric practice of murdering whales by anyone, anywhere, for any reason.”
Hvalur Hf, is currently under investigation for violating animal welfare and sanitation regulations as well as deliberately failing to provide whaling logs to Icelandic fishing authorities in contravention of the whaling regulations, among other infringements.
Unfortunately, the government of Iceland has been slow to review and penalize Hvalur for its transgressions, forcing interest groups to submit a petition to the Icelandic Althing Ombudsman (an agency action oversight body that conducts Mueller-type investigations) to open an investigation into the administrative failures of the Icelandic government in adequately policing whaling.
The Icelandic government is not at liberty to issue any permits to Hvalur Hf until all ongoing legal matters surrounding the company’s whaling activities are resolved.
“Given Hvalur’s long history of violations, the fact that whaling is an inhumane and archaic practice that most Icelanders oppose, and the fact Fin whales are protected under CITES, it would be unconscionable and reckless for the Icelandic government to ever issue fin whaling permits again” stated Captain Lockhart Maclean, Sea Shepherd’s Director of Marine Operations.
Sea Shepherd has been actively opposed to Icelandic whaling for over 30 years, including
successfully shutting down Hvalur’s illegal whaling operations for 17 years with the sinking of half its fleet in 1986.
Sea Shepherd’s interceptor vessel, the M/V Brigitte Bardot will be departing Halifax, Canada, for Iceland this week to monitor a planned commercial minke whale hunt, scheduled to take place later in June on board the whaling vessel Hrafnreydur, a non Hvalur owned vessel, which slaughtered six minke whales last summer.
Sea Shepherd Announces a New Campaign to Expose Illegal Whaling by the Notorious Captain Ahab of Iceland.
Sea Shepherd Iceland in partnership with Sea Shepherd U.K. and Sea Shepherd France are sending the Brigitte Bardot to Iceland this summer to document the illegal and barbaric operations of Kristján Loftsson and his two pirate whaling ships ‘Hvalur 8’ and ‘Hvalur 9’.
Last summer (2018) Sea Shepherd UK’s crew on Operation Mjolnir documented the slaughter of 144 Fin whales, one highly endangered Blue whale and another rare Blue/Fin hybrid.
Kristján Loftsson framed by the huge jawbone of a harpooned fin whale. Photo: Sea Shepherd UK
This summer the Brigitte Bardot will patrol alongside the whaling ships to document, live-stream video, and film using drones, 24 hours per day, the atrocities of the harpoon vessels, as they hunt for Fin whales, miles off the West coast of Iceland.
Armed with cameras and drones, the crew of the Brigitte Bardot will focus international attention on Loftsson’s illicit operations by live streaming his activities.
Operation Northern Exposure will be a campaign in which Loftsson’s ships and crew will never be physically touched or interfered with in any way - BUT it will be a campaign in which their every action will be documented and live-streamed in a new global exposure and social media campaign.
The killing of whales by Iceland’s Kristján Loftsson will no longer continue out of sight and out of mind.
The people of Iceland do not support whaling. The children of Iceland do not support whaling. The children of the world do not support whaling. The people of the world do not support whaling. The visitors who come to Iceland to experience the beauty and uniqueness of Iceland do not support whaling.
Sea Shepherd believes that the camera is our most powerful weapon. The world and the people of Iceland will see the horrific brutality of Kristján Loftsson’s whale killing and hear the pitiful and agonizing screams of endangered Fin whales as their bodies are viciously shattered by explosive harpoons.
One man is responsible for this death and cruelty.
To make a donation to our campaigns to end whaling visit:
Hvalur 8 drags two harpooned Fin whales into Hvalfjörður. Photo: Sea Shepherd UK
An Endangered Fin whale is dragged up the slipway at the whaling station at Miðsandur on the North side of Hvalfjörður, Iceland. Photo: Sea Shepherd UK
The dead fetus of a Fin whale is dragged out of public view during the butchering of it’s harpooned mother at the whaling station at Miðsandur [Sea Shepherd UK – 2018]
The Icelandic whaling company ‘Hvalur hf’ operates a large shore based whaling station at Miðsandur on the North side of Hvalfjörður and two old Norwegian built whaling ships, Hvalur 8 (built in 1948) and Hvalur 9 (built in 1952).
Hvalur hf's CEO is multi-millionnaire fishing magnate and second-generation whaler Kristján Loftsson. Loftsson's company is notorious for exclusively hunting protected Fin whales, the second largest animal on the planet after the Blue whale.
In 2018 Sea Shepherd UK launched Operation Mjolnir - the most comprehensive land based campaign to document and expose Icelandic whaling. For more information, images and video from the campaign visit: https://www.seashepherd.org.uk/campaigns/operation-mjolnir/
Sea Shepherd’s Statement on Japan’s Decision to Commercially Slaughter Whales.
Photo Credit: Sea Shepherd & Barbara Veiga
Los Angeles, California – December 26th, 2018 – Since 2002, Sea Shepherd has opposed Japanese whaling operations in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary with expeditions to Antarctic waters first in 2002 followed by continuous campaigns from 2005 until 2017.
During this period over 6,000 whales were saved from the harpoons of Japanese commercial whalers posing as research whalers by Sea Shepherd interventions.
In 2017, the Japanese government began to invest millions of dollars in security efforts to prevent Sea Shepherd from engaging their fleets. These security measures included military grade real time surveillance.
Although this prevented Sea Shepherd from returning to the Southern Ocean in 2018, it also placed Japan in a position of expending huge resources on continuous security.
In other words, the cost of preventing Sea Shepherd intervention became very expensive.
This and the verdict of the International Court of Justice that exposed Japanese research as fraudulent, coupled with worldwide condemnation of their Southern Ocean activities has in the opinion of Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd led to this decision to declare they will openly undertake commercial whaling activities.
The scheme to pose as researchers will now be dropped and that means there can be absolutely no justification for hunting whales in an internationally established whale sanctuary. This will be the last year of Japanese whaling activities in the Southern Ocean.
Sea Shepherd’s objective of ending the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary has been realized. This is a victory for the campaign to make the Southern Ocean a whaling free zone.
Photo Credit: Sea Shepherd & Marianna Baldo
If Japan decides to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) it will allow the IWC to pass the motion to establish the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary thus effectively ending whaling in the Southern Hemisphere.
Japan will now join Norway and Iceland as rogue outlaw whaling nations in the North Pacific and the North Atlantic.
The Whale Wars in the Southern Ocean will soon be over. The focus now must be the Northern Hemisphere.
Sea Shepherd welcomes this announcement by Japan and views it as a positive development.
Captain Paul Watson issued a statement saying, “We are delighted to see the end of whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We are delighted that we will soon have a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary and we look forward to continuing to oppose the three remaining pirate whaling nations of Norway, Japan and Iceland. Whaling as a ‘legal’ industry has ended. All that remains is to mop up the pirates.”
The owner and captain of the Malaysian-flagged fishing vessel (F/V) Buah Naga 1 that was boarded and arrested by Tanzanian law enforcement agents as part of Operation Jodari have pleaded guilty to the charge of Unlawful Possession of Shark Fins in a plea agreement with Tanzanian prosecutors.
Captain of the Buah Naga 1 and Tanzanian Police Inspector during January 25th arrest. Photo Jax Oliver/Sea Shepherd.
The captain, Mr. Han Ming Chuan of a Taiwan, has been in custody since January 2018 when he was charged with five crimes: Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Acts, Unlawful Possession of Shark Fins, Pollution of the Marine Environment, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm and Unlawful Possession of Ammunition. The owner, Mr. Dato Seri Lee Yee Jiat, and agent, Mr. Abubakar Salum Hassan, joined the F/V Buah Naga 1 in police custody after they were subsequently arrested in June.
On December 4th the defendants reached a plea agreement with the Tanzanian Director of Public Prosecutions to avoid trial, pleading guilty to one of the five charges: Unlawful Possession of Shark Fins.
The High Court of Tanzania sentenced the three defendants to twenty years imprisonment or a fine of one billion Tanzanian Shillings ($435,000 USD). All three have been remanded to Lilungu Prison in Mtwara to begin serving their custodial sentences. If the fine is paid then the sentence will be suspended.
The High Court has handed over the seized shark fins to the Tanzanian Deep Sea Fishing Authority for destruction. The F/V Bua Naga 1 remains in in Mtwara.
When the F/V Buah Naga 1 was first boarded on January 25th by Tanzanian law enforcement agents working on board the Sea Shepherd vessel M/Y Ocean Warrior, inspectors discovered that the vessel was carrying an illegal cargo of shark fins. An unlicensed firearm, a 9mm Beretta pistol, was found in the captain’s cabin. According to the Indonesian fishers working on board, the firearm was regularly used to threaten them to work. If no fish was caught, then the Indonesian crew would not be fed.
“Sea Shepherd applauds the Tanzanian government for the successful prosecution of the F/V Buah Naga 1 and for the strong message of deterrence that the Tanzanian High Court has sent to shark fin poachers everywhere. As shark populations plummet globally, Tanzania is rising as an international leader in the fight against illegal fishing." --Peter Hammarstedt, Director of Campaigns for Sea Shepherd Global
Operation Jodari is a joint partnership between Sea Shepherd, Fish-i Africa and the government of Tanzania to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
RELATED ARTICLE: "Sea Shepherd Launches Operation Jodari with Tanzania, Makes First three Arrests" (Feb 5, 2018)
RELATED ARTICLE: “LEGAL UPDATE: Two More Arrests in Tanzanian Illegal Fishing Investigation” (June 5, 2018)
The small boat of Sea Shepherd's Ocean Warrior brings Tanzanian Marines to the Buah Naga 1 for inspection. Photo by Jax Oliver/Sea Shepherd.
Sea Shepherd’s flagship vessel the M/Y Steve Irwin has conducted multiple campaigns in defense of the world’s oceans, from protecting pilot whales in the Faroes, blue fin tuna in the Mediterranean, and humpback whales off the Kimberley coast, to shutting down six illegal Chinese drift-netters in the South Indian Ocean, and six illegal tooth fish poachers in the Southern Ocean.
Not least, it has conducted nine Antarctic whale defence campaigns in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary helping save over 6,000 whales from the illegal Japanese whaling fleet. The Steve Irwin has safeguarded one of the last large intact marine ecosystems on the planet in the Great Australian Bight (knocking out BP and Chevron), most recently visiting the Great Barrier Reef in opposition of the Adani coal mine.
Prior to Sea Shepherd obtaining the M/Y Steve Irwin, it served as a Scottish fisheries patrol vessel, built in 1975. So, in essence, the Steve has been defending marine wildlife its whole life. Sea Shepherd has always taken great pride and appreciation in getting permission from the Irwin family to rename our ship the Steve Irwin back in 2007, in continuing the legacy and honoring Australia’s great wildlife warrior.
Sadly, our Steve is at the end of its life and we need to retire the vessel. We have reached out to many organisations and governments to look at options such as turning the Steve into a dive site or donating it to a maritime museum. However, with none of these options eventuating or being practical, the Steve Irwin will be recycled.
Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson, stated: “On December 7, 2007, Teri Irwin and I launched the M/V Steve Irwin, a vessel that would be our flagship for the next decade. It has been my honor to have been captain of this vessel for so many successful high seas campaigns. The lives we have saved and the difference we have made with this vessel has been awesome. We worked the ship hard, through horrific storms and crushing ice and after eleven years, our engineers have determined that the Steve Irwin is no longer safe for sea.
"It is simply not wise to risk the lives of our crew beyond the boundaries of practicality. Despite the many risks we have taken over the years we have learned when to hold a ship and when to retire a ship and regrettably the time to retire the Steve Irwin is now. Battle scarred and damaged, regrettably she must be retired, but the memories, the campaign victories and the lives saved will be the lasting legacy of a ship that was as valiant and courageous as her namesake."
Captain Alex Cornelissen, CEO of Sea Shepherd Global, stated: “I will always remember the first voyage of the Steve Irwin (called the Robert Hunter at that time), after having found the vessel in Rosyth, Scotland we prepared the ship for active service in Neptune’s Navy. We sailed down the Atlantic and through the Straights of Magellan to the first Antarctic anti-whaling campaign in which we had a speed advantage over the whalers. The Steve Irwin was the game changer and stood at the base of Sea Shepherd’s following Antarctic campaigns, saving over 6,000 whales."
Jeff Hansen, Managing Director, Sea Shepherd Australia stated: “Having sailed six campaigns personally on the Irwin, I have many fond priceless experiences and cherished memories that I take with me to the grave. So, it’s with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our flagship the Steve Irwin, for the Steve has facilitated Sea Shepherd in creating lasting victories and legacies for our oceans. A global and Australian iconic vessel that has defended whales off the Kimberley, the Great Australian Bight, the Great Barrier Reef and off Antarctica," Jeff continued.
"The Steve Irwin’s final journey will be to a Hong Kong Convention approved scrapping facility, meaning it meets international labor and environmental regulations. In essence, Sea Shepherd was able to further extend the life of the Irwin from a Scottish Fisheries patrol vessel to today since we purchased it back in 2007. Now in line with Sea Shepherd’s environmental ethics and standards the Irwin will be recycled.
“Sea Shepherd would like to thank and acknowledge all the wonderful people around the world that over the years volunteered, supported and funded the Steve Irwin on its vital global missions, that had a piece of their hearts filled with the hope and courage that the Steve represented, and with each campaign Sea Shepherd sailed in defense of the oceans, our supporters spirits always sailed with us.
"Together, with the Steve Irwin, we have made history, saving hundreds of thousands of marine animals in defense of our oceans, humanity's primary life support."
In a joint operation with the Liberian Ministry of National Defense to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Republic of Liberia, West Africa, Sea Shepherd assisted the Liberian Coast Guard in the arrest of a foreign-flagged industrial trawler caught plundering artisanal fishing waters.
Despite great efforts to conceal its identity, the 32-meter trawler Bonheur was intercepted by the Liberian Coast Guard on the 7th of November after crossing into Liberian waters from neighboring Côte d'Ivoire with its fishing gear in the water. On sighting the Coast Guard, the captain of the Bonheur immediately changed course, increased speed and attempted to flee Liberian waters. Using the small boat of Sea Shepherd’s ship, the Sam Simon, the Liberian Coast Guard were able to board and secure the Bonheur before it could escape justice.
The boarding team discovered that nets had been draped over the name of the vessel in a bid to conceal its identity from artisanal fishermen who could have otherwise reported the incursion to the Liberian Coast Guard.
The Bonheur was arrested fishing five nautical miles off the coast, within the six-nautical-mile area the Liberian government banned industrial trawling to protect the livelihoods of Liberia’s artisanal fishermen and the 33,000 Liberians who depend on small scale fisheries for their income. The ban, enacted through the establishment of an inshore exclusion zone (IEZ), has resulted in a noticeable increase in fish populations off the coast.
“As local small-scale artisanal fishermen notice the benefit of the IEZ through an increase in fish in populations, some foreign industrial fishing vessels see these coastal areas as piggy banks to be smashed by their industrial gear”, said Peter Hammarstedt, Sea Shepherd Global’s Director of Campaigns.
The Bonheur was subsequently escorted to port by the Sam Simon, where its cargo of fish was confiscated by Liberian authorities, and where the vessel awaits justice.
The arrest of the Bonheur marks the start of Operation Sola Stella III, the third partnership between Sea Shepherd and the Liberian Ministry of National Defense. The apprehension is the 13th arrest of a vessel for fisheries crimes in Liberian waters since February 2017.
Back in May 2015, Sea Shepherd tipped off police in the West African Republic of Cabo Verde about the presence of two black-listed illegal fishing vessels sought by Interpol hiding out in their port (read the article here). The Cabo Verde Judicial Police detained the vessels and international efforts continue to keep them grounded ever since.
Crew of the Sam Simon hauled 72 kilometres of illegal gillnet abandoned by the Thunder in Antarctic waters. Photo: Giacomo Giorgi
The two vessels, formerly known as Yongding and Songhua, are historically-linked to the infamous Vidal Armadores toothfish poaching syndicate and have made numerous attempts to change their names and registries in ill-fated bids to escape detention in the port of Mindelo.
Recent investigations by crew on board the Sea Shepherd vessel Sam Simon show that the toothfish poachers’ latest bid to undermine law enforcement authorities by renaming the Songhua to Pesca Cisne 2, and attempting to flag it to Chile, has failed. The vessel formerly known as Songhua remains detained in Mindelo, with the name Pesca Cisne 2 now painted over in drab colors and with no new markings to replace it. Sea Shepherd is concerned that the previous owner, Vidal Armadores, may have sold the vessel to another toothfish poaching kingpin, Florindo Gonzalez, the man who owned the Thunder, a toothfish poacher that sank after 110 days of pursuit by Sea Shepherd ships (see article here).
The Yongding, now named Atlantic Wind, also remains detained after failing in its attempt to gain a new flag from Tanzania. Since detention, the two vessels have cycled through the flags of Sierra Leone, Tanzania – and attempted to flag to Chile – all without luck.
“The continued detention of the vessels best known as Yongding and Songhua are the result of continued vigilance by Sea Shepherd, Oceana, Interpol’s Project Scale, law enforcement authorities in Cabo Verde and other international organizations and agencies, ensuring that attempts by the poachers to have the ships simply transfer hands under new names – or to hop flags – is met with immediate response. The success of Operation Icefish, which started with the sinking of the notorious Thunder, continues as these two vessels have now been stuck in port for three-and-a-half years”, said Peter Hammarstedt, Director of Campaigns for Sea Shepherd Global.
The crew of the Sam Simon confirm the poaching vessels are still in the Port of Mindelo. Photos by Emanuela Giurano/Sea Shepherd.