South African Authorities Say They are "Done" with Farley Mowat

It appears that Saleem Modak, our not so friendly South African bureaucrat, is in his own words "done talking about the Farley Mowat."

He went ballistic when he heard the ship had escaped his clutches and almost fell off his swivel chair.

When asked about how the ship could leave unnoticed, the Cape Town Harbour authorities replied that yachts come and go all the time without notice. Yet the reason the ship was being detained was that Modak and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) claimed it was not a yacht.

Modak claimed that the ship was being detained also because it presented a security threat to the harbour. Apparently, the authorities were worried that the crew would hang a banner from a nuclear plant or photograph the illegal trade in shark fins going on in the port. Yet the ship left unnoticed and was not noticed missing for 12 hours. So much for security in Cape Town.

In his attempt to appease the requests of the Japanese whaling industry and Canadian bureaucrats, Modak has allowed himself to be portrayed as an insensitive pawn of the whalers and a stuffy, uncaring bureaucrat. According to Modak, the articles on this issue have caused him to be the object of ridicule and protest.

The fact is that Modak was hostile to the crew of the Farley Mowat from the moment the ship entered Cape Town harbour. He boarded the ship with a detention order before he even inspected the ship or its papers. The order for the detention was dated the day before the arrival of the ship. When Modak states that he inspected the ship, found it lacking in commercial certification then issued the detention order, he was flat out lying.

The detention of the Farley Mowat was politically motivated. The proof lies in the fact that the ship had traveled from Canada via Bermuda, the USA, Panama, Ecuador, New Zealand, and Australia without a single detention, infraction, or bureaucratic protest. Suddenly the ship returns from intervening against the Japanese whaling fleet and Modak's "routine" inspection results in a detention.

Sea Shepherd Advisory Board member and marine attorney Basil Hobbs received a phone call from Transport Canada saying that the Farley Mowat is not a yacht because we take paying passengers. Basil informed him that we have never taken paying passengers in our entire history. Modak said we were not a yacht because yachts can't interfere with whaling operations because that is a commercial activity. It is interesting that whaling ships and fishing vessels are exempted from commercial status but that interfering with whaling without profit is considered commercial.

In January, Modak sarcastically told Captain Paul Watson that a yacht is a "white vessel that you sit on and have drinks. It is not a ship that protests whaling."

Captain Watson answered that he was surprised. "You would think in post apartheid South Africa there would be room for a black yacht."

Sea Shepherd finds it interesting that you can sport fish from a yacht and that is considered a non-commercial activity yet saving fish from a yacht is considered a commercial activity. You can whale watch and film whales from a yacht but watching and filming whalers is considered a commercial activity.

Even more interesting is that when the ship bears a certificate of registry as a pleasure craft (yacht) South Africa decides that the ship is not a pleasure craft despite the certificate of registry.

What is a pleasure craft? It is a vessel that one takes pleasure in operating. Captain Watson states that he takes "a great deal of pleasure in defending whales, seals, and fish."

A few bureaucrats have complained in the past that we can't be a yacht because we are too big to be a yacht, yet we are smaller than the Royal Yacht Britannia and there are hundreds of larger mega-yachts cruising around as floating pleasure palaces, catching fish, and watching whales. The Britannia was not even painted white.

The Farley Mowat is now over 700 miles from South African and well out of the clutches of Saleem Modak and his bureaucratic manipulations and deceptions.

Cape Times News Article, June 20th, 2006:


Authorities pass buck after escape of Farley

By Heather Downie

The Farley Mowat's illegal escape into international waters from Table Bay harbour last week has led to a flurry of finger-pointing.

The South African Maritime Safety Association (Samsa), which enforces maritime safety regulations, and the Cape Town Port Authority, which monitors boats entering and leaving the harbour, said guarding the vessel of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a group fiercely opposed to whaling, was not their job.

"Samsa detained the boat in January and had an obligation to make sure the boat was secured at all times," said Cape Town Port Authority harbour master Rufus Lekala.

"If it was my responsibility, I would have had the boat guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."

Samsa chief Captain Saleem Modak said: "I'm done talking about the Farley Mowat."

He declined to comment beyond saying that the boat's departure was a "port security issue" and being investigated.

Lekala said the ship had left the harbour between 10pm on Thursday night and 3am on Friday.

In the dark and bustle of the harbour, its departure had gone undetected. The Farley Mowat is heading for Australia, where it is to dock in less than three weeks.

"They're smooth sailing in the Indian Ocean and are gearing up to head back up to Antarctica in December," said Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

"They're ready to get back out there and defend the whales."

The Farley Mowat has ambushed illegal Japanese whaling fleets a number of times.