Sea Shepherd to Take South African Bureaucrats to Court

Today the Cape Times published an article about Sea Shepherd's ongoing challenge with the authorities of South Africa. The authorities continue to demand commercial vessel documentation from the Society's flagship Farley Mowat which is a Canadian-registered yacht (not a commercial vessel).

In the article, the second secretary of the Japanese Embassy in Pretoria states that Japan has not put any pressure on South Africa or Canada. He is not telling the truth because the Japanese have already publicly announced that they notified both Canada and the Netherlands to put pressure on the Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd ships. They actually put out a media release on it and now they are claiming that they have not done so. Japanese officials are, of course, seasoned liars when it comes to the issue of whaling.

The Japanese spokesperson also echoed the SAMSA statement that is very misleading. Both SAMSA and now Japan are insinuating that the problem is safety equipment and conditions when all that is being questioned are documents. SAMSA is demanding safety and security documents that pertain to commercial cargo vessels only and not to yachts. These are certificates that Sea Shepherd cannot possibly acquire for a vessel registered as a yacht. The Canadian Consulate in Cape Town confirmed to Sea Shepherd that it does not make sense for South Africa to press for such documentation and our ship must be treated as a yacht.

In fact, the Farley Mowat has liferafts to accommodate 100 crew plus immersion suits and working survival suits for all crewmembers. The ship is safe and well equipped and lacks only the documents that the ship is not registered to require.

Click here to read the article on the Cape Times website; it is also displayed below.

Farley Mowat's detention forcing court action
Melanie Gosling
February 06 2006 at 11:20AM

The agents of the anti-whaling vessel, the Farley Mowat, have written to the authorities asking that the detention order on the vessel be lifted immediately and that they be allowed to leave Cape Town harbour on Monday.

Herbert Heinrich, adviser to the board of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which owns the Canadian-flagged vessel, said on Sunday they expected a reply from the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) on Monday.

"We cannot produce the documents they want because we are not registered as a cargo vessel, so we have asked that the detention order be lifted and we be allowed to depart. If Samsa says no, then we will ask the public prosecutor's office if they can help us. If they can't then we will have to take them to court. It's a ridiculous step, but it might be the only option left," Heinrich said.

A Cape Town maritime lawyer had offered his services to the crew free. Meanwhile, Japan has denied that it has anything to do with the detention as a way of keeping the vessel in Cape Town and unable to return to harass the Japanese whaling fleet.

The ship has returned from several weeks in the Southern Ocean where it has been "ambushing" Japanese whalers, "hitting them and then chasing them again".

The authorities say the detention is because of inadequate safety measures on board, but Sea Shepherd believes it is a ploy by Canada and South Africa, under pressure from Japan, to keep the ship from harassing Japan's whaling fleet.

Takuya Nemoto, second secretary of the Japanese Embassy in Pretoria, said in response to Cape Times queries that Japan had not put any pressure on Canada or South Africa to detain the Farley Mowat.

"The embassy of Japan would like to point out that the government of Japan is aware that the detention of the Farley Mowat was made by the South African government's own decision, which is reportedly due to the finding that this vessel was in contravention of the international regulations on safety and navigation of vessels in terms of vessel equipment and crew qualifications," Nemoto said.

There has been a stream of visitors to the vessel. "We've had an impressive chain of visitors who sympathise with our situation. Many of them have brought food. Pick 'n Pay brought a whole bakkie load of food. It's very encouraging for the crew," Heinrich said.

Samsa was not available for comment on Sunday.