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The Red Hot Chili Peppers put on a fantastic digital visual display featuring Sea Shepherd imagery before hitting the main stage to rock the crowdThe Red Hot Chili Peppers put on a fantastic
digital visual display featuring Sea Shepherd imagery
before hitting the main stage to rock the crowd
Photo: Sea Shepherd
The Big Day Out is one of Australia’s longest running music festivals, this year boasting its 21st anniversary with headliner act and long-time Sea Shepherd supporters, the legendary Red Hot Chili Peppers.

In front of a sold-out crowd of approximately 50,000 punters in Sydney, and a near capacity crowd of almost 40,000 on the Gold Coast, the Red Hot Chili Peppers showed their steadfast support for Sea Shepherd - literally.

Utilising massive, on-stage digital screens, the Chilis displayed Sea Shepherd imagery in a pre-performance visual show on the Big Day Out main stage. The visuals included Sea Shepherd logos and campaign images, as well as a call out from the band that read: RHCP ASKS YOU TO PLEASE SUPPORT OUR FRIENDS AT SEASHEPHERD.ORG.

In Sydney, the Sea Shepherd visual displays were greeted with cheers from the crowds who, after sweltering in the heat of Sydney’s hottest day on record, still had the energy to vocalise their support for Sea Shepherd. There was a similarly welcome reception on the Gold Coast where the Sea Shepherd merchandise and information booth enjoyed a constant flow of enthusiastic punters, keen to find out more about the organisation.

From the moment they hit the stage, it was clear to see why the Red Hot Chili Peppers are so loved and admired by fans and critics alike. For the last three decades they have rocked audiences around the world, and this tour is no exception. Tight. Loud. Inspiring. Epic. This was spine-tingling stuff - the kind of performance that memories are made of.

To everyone who made this happen, particularly the band’s production team, management team and of course to the Red Hot Chili Peppers themselves, we would like to extend a colossal, THANK YOU!

The Chilis continue their headline Big Day Out performances this week, with shows in Adelaide on Friday, Melbourne on Saturday and Perth on Sunday. Sea Shepherd onshore crew will also be staffing merchandise and information stands at each event, so make sure you pop in to say hello and show your support!

For more details, check out the BDO website, here:

Sea Shepherd's booth at the Big Day Out Festival in AustraliaSea Shepherd's booth at the Big Day Out Festival in Australia
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd was invited by the Red Hot Chili Peppers to host a booth at Australia's Big Day Out FestivalSea Shepherd was invited by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
to host a booth at Australia's Big Day Out Festival
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Original Nation PassportSea Shepherd Conservation Society Founder, Captain Paul Watson, has been honoured with an Original Nation passport in a ceremony in Melbourne.

On Friday January 19th, Sea Shepherd representatives (Anna Gordon and Jordan Crooka) accepted the passport on behalf of Captain Watson who is currently aboard Sea Shepherd’s flagship vessel, the SSS Steve Irwin. Having recently stepped down from Sea Shepherd U.S. and Sea Shepherd Australia, Captain Watson has remained on board the vessel to document Sea Shepherd’s whale campaign.

Coordinated by Jabbir Jabbir and Nyul Nyul man Rodney Augustine (from the Kimberley region), and signed-off by Tent Embassy Customs Officer Robbie Thorpe from the Krautungalung people of the Gunnai Nation, the traditional owners of Lake Tyers, the passport is a show of solidarity between the First Peoples of Australia and Captain Watson. At a time when leaders of many nations have left Captain Watson without assistance, it is an acknowledgement by the First Australians of the years he has spent looking after the planet and the creatures that call it home.

Mr. Thorpe said, “We appreciate what environmental warriors like Paul Watson do. Anyone out there defending our flora and fauna is welcome to Country. We look forward to welcoming Paul ashore with a Welcome to Country smoke ceremony, at which time we will give him an official indigenous name.”

Accepting the honour, Captain Watson made the following statement: “I am proud beyond measure to receive a passport from the First Australians, an indigenous community that continues to remain unbroken from the connection between the laws of nature and our species. When the Aboriginal people look upon the whales, they see a mind and a spirit akin to themselves and they feel that same relationship that has also guided me since 1975 when I first looked into the eye of a dying whale and saw another reality. There are very few within the anthropocentric society that truly understand what we do, and why we do what we do to defend the whales. But there are many amongst the bio-centric community who do see, listen, smell and feel the kinship between all of us who dwell on this planet within the continuum of life, from the past through the present into the future. I know the Krautungalung of the Gunnai Nation and all First Australian Nations know of what I speak. Thank you Rodney Augustine, Robbie Thorpe and all involved for your most honoured support.”

Captain Watson is the second high-profile activist to have received the honorary Original Nation passport, after WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, who received the accolade in September last year.

Former Greens leader, and member of Sea Shepherd Australia’s Board of Directors, Bob Brown, said, "The Original Nation passport given to Paul Watson recognises this great conservationist's unparalleled contribution to saving Australia's whales. First Australians issuing this passport will be backed by most Australians who will want to see Watson in Australia and safe from harassment by Japanese political pressure.”

Last year, Sea Shepherd launched its first Australian based campaign, Operation Kimberley Miinimbi, to oppose the controversial gas-hub at James Price Point on the Western Australian Kimberley Coast. Led by Bob Brown and Sea Shepherd Australia Director, Jeff Hansen, under invitation from the Goolarabooloo people whose country the proposed gas hub would be built upon, the operation is raising awareness of the Kimberley coastline to show the world what we all stand to lose if the development goes ahead.

"The Indigenous peoples of Australia's connection to land and sea country is what Captain Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd is all about,” said Sea Shepherd Australia Director, Jeff Hansen. “Living in peace and harmony with the natural world and all its inhabitants. Any crime against nature is a crime against humanity, simply because we cannot sustain life on this planet without a healthy land and sea environment. Acknowledging Captain Paul Watson in this way further cements the notion that the majority of Australians are against whaling.  We should all honour the man that has been leading the fight for Australia's whales in Australia's territory by granting him safe passage into Australia."

The passport will be delivered to Captain Watson on his return from the whale campaign.

Anna Gordon, Robbie Thorpe, and Jordan Crooka

(From Left to right) Anna Gordon – Sea Shepherd Australia Donor Relations Coordinator
Robbie Thorpe - is from the Krautungalung people of the Gunnai Nation, the traditional owners of Lake Tyers.
Jordan Crooka – Sea Shepherd Melbourne onshore crew

Original Nation Passport

Enzo Maiorca visits the Steve Irwin in Syracuse, ItalyEnzo Maiorca visits the Steve Irwin in Syracuse, Italy
Photo: Sea Shepherd
Sea Shepherd is honored to welcome Enzo Maiorca and his daughter Patrizia Maiorca to Sea Shepherd’s International Board of Advisors. Enzo is known throughout the Mediterranean as the King of the Abyss. He is a legendary, multiple record holding free diver, having set several world records during his diving career. French film director Luc Besson was so inspired by the life of Enzo Maiorca that he made a film called The Big Blue inspired by Enzo Maiorca and the world of competitive free diving.

During Operation Blue Rage, Sea Shepherd’s campaign to defend Bluefin Tuna in the Mediterranean, the SSSSteve Irwin docked in Syracuse, Sicily.  There, Captain Watson met Enzo Maiorca and they exchanged a handshake that marked a milestone in the history of the oceans. The legendary free diver shared a profound experience he had while in the ocean:

“Years ago, while we were diving, a male dolphin guided my daughters Rossana and Patrizia, and myself, almost leading us by our hands, and gave us the chance to save a female dolphin who was tangled up in the meshes of a swordfish net. I maintain that his brain waves influenced our minds. What is certain is that our arms were the stretcher by means of which we carried that poor exhausted animal, wracked by contractions, to the surface. As soon as she was on the surface, after breathing out foam and blood, she gave birth to a dolphin calf under the watchful eyes of her mate. The little one was led to his mama’s nipples by gentle strokes of the adult dolphin’s beak. I like to think that on that day we reunited a family. Such rage permeated my being when I became aware of the illegal mass slaughter of cetaceans in Taiji, along with the one perpetrated illegally by the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, that I can only condemn – without any extenuating circumstances – those pirates of the Rising Sun, real pirates who bring death and irremediable destruction to the seas of this world.”

Enzo’s daughter Patrizia, a world champion free diver herself, also became a member of Sea Shepherd’s Board of Advisors. An environmentalist working tirelessly to recover discarded nets, which continue to kill wildlife in our oceans, Patrizia met Captain Peter Hammarstedt of the SSS Bob Barker, at the Festival Vegetariano in Gorizia, Italy. "Enzo and Patrizia once told me that the reason they can never stop free diving, is that those precious minutes underwater is when they are most at peace. As they reach their greatest depths, they find themselves surrounded by blue on all sides, and time slows down, reminding them that they are a part of the natural world, not something separate from it. It is my hope, that as members of the Sea Shepherd Board of Advisors, they will feel like they are surrounded by that big blue all of the time", said Captain Hammarstedt.

“We are proud to have the living history of free diving on our international team, and we are confident that, thanks to these ambassadors of the deep blue, our oceans will be more and more staunchly defended and protected even in their most remote corner, for the generations to come, said Andrea Morello, Coordinator for Sea Shepherd Italy. Welcome aboard, Enzo and Patrizia!

Enzo and Patrizia Maiorca show their support for Sea ShepherdEnzo and Patrizia Maiorca show their support for Sea Shepherd
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Captain Hammarstedt addresses the crowd at the Festival Vegetariano in Gorizia, ItalyCaptain Hammarstedt addresses the crowd
at the Festival Vegetariano in Gorizia, Italy
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Founder and President Captain Paul Watson Steps Down From Sea Shepherd U.S. and Australia

Fomer Senator Bob Brown and Director of Sea Shepherd Australia Jeff HansenFormer Senator Bob Brown with Director of
Sea Shepherd Australia Jeff Hansen
Photo: Sea Shepherd
At a press conference alongside the SSS Sam Simon at 10:00 am AEDT today in Hobart, the Australian Chapter of the global marine conservation non-profit, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, announced it will direct the organization’s ninth Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, Operation Zero Tolerance. Sea Shepherd founder and President, Captain Paul Watson, has stepped down from Sea Shepherd U.S. and Sea Shepherd Australia. The SSS Steve Irwin, typically captained by Captain Watson, will be manned by Captain Siddharth Chakravarty for the extent of the campaign. Captain Watson will remain aboard to document the campaign. Long-time colleague and advisor of Captain Watson, current board member Marnie Gaede will assume the role of President of Sea Shepherd U.S. while former Greens Party leader and former Australian Senator Bob Brown has joined the Board of Directors of Sea Shepherd Australia and will direct Operation Zero Tolerance along with Director of Sea Shepherd Australia, Jeff Hansen. These changes are being adopted in order for Sea Shepherd to continue its vital mission of defending at-risk whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

"I am honored to serve the great whales of the Southern Ocean and Sea Shepherd in this way,” said former Greens Party leader and former Senator Brown. My admiration for Paul Watson is inversely proportional to the Japanese government’s anger at Sea Shepherd's success at preventing the slaughter of almost 4,000 whales in recent years,” he added. “I ask Australians to support generously so that this great mission can continue.”

Over the past eight seasons, Sea Shepherd’s work defending whales has been endorsed by the majority of Australian citizens, hence Sea Shepherd is doing the job that most Australians want to see done to protect whales. Much like this past summer’s Operation Kimberley Miinimbi, Sea Shepherd’s Southern Ocean campaign is ultimately a project based in Australia and relates to whale protection in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Sea Shepherd Australia has always been heavily involved in the planning and fundraising for the Southern Ocean campaign. Sea Shepherd Australia’s directorship of the Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign is a natural evolution of Sea Shepherd’s growth around the world and in regions such as Australia.

Bob Brown with Malcolm Holland during Operation Kimberley MiinimbiBob Brown with Malcolm Holland during Operation Kimberley Miinimbi
Photo: Sea Shepherd

“This is one of Sea Shepherd’s most widely followed campaigns, endorsed by hundreds of thousands of citizens around the world, but the fact remains the whales of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary reside in Australia’s backyard,” Hansen said. “In fact, the whales at risk in the Southern Ocean are some of the very same whales who migrate there from the waters off the coast of Western Australia. It makes sense that Australians should take up the gauntlet and defend them,” he added.

Sea Shepherd has been engaging in interventions on the high seas in defense of marine wildlife for 35 years and for eight seasons against Japan’s Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) — a front for illegal, government-subsidized whaling — all within the confines of the law and without causing serious injury. Each December, Sea Shepherd journeys to Antarctica to defend the whales inside a marine sanctuary from being killed by the ICR. Over the last eight campaigns in the Southern Ocean, Sea Shepherd has saved the lives of nearly 4,000 whales and exposed illegal Japanese whaling activities to the world.

In February of last year, the ICR lost a preliminary injunction they brought against Sea Shepherd U.S. to try and prevent the organization from protecting whales during this year’s Antarctic whale defense campaign, Operation Zero Tolerance. That decision was overturned last month and an injunction was issued by The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Washington State in favor of the ICR. The whaling fleet has claimed injuries to their crew, although they have not been able to produce a shred of medical evidence confirming their claims. Meanwhile, Sea Shepherd has videotaped evidence of ICR ships ramming and damaging Sea Shepherd ships, in one case completely destroying a $1.5 million dollar vessel, injuring a cameraman and nearly drowning six crewmembers, but the ICR has not so much as even been questioned. Furthermore, in January 2008, the Federal Court in Australia ruled the ICR’s whaling to be illegal and issued an injunction against the whalers, but the whalers continue killing in violation of that court order. They are also hunting in the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone and are carrying loaded rifles on board their ships in a demilitarized zone, a violation of the Antarctic Treaty.

In addition to Hansen and Brown, former Federal Environment Minister of Australia Ian Campbell spoke at the press conference and had this to say about the campaign: “Sea Shepherd Australia has one mission this summer and that is 'Zero Tolerance' of blood in the Southern Ocean. The Japanese have armed their vessels with harpoons that maim and kill whales, and guns that can maim and kill humans,” he said. “Sea Shepherd Australia is there to protect whales and if its vessels have to get within 450 meters of a killer ship to save a whale, then that is what will be done. If the Japanese say they won't go within 450 meters of a whale, Sea Shepherd Australia will do the same,” he added.

Encouraged by the worldwide support being expressed for this campaign, Captain Paul Watson said: “Sea Shepherd Australia is in a very good position to lead this campaign in the Southern Ocean. We have every faith they will ensure Operation Zero Tolerance is a complete success.”


Australia instituted proceedings against Japan in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on May 31, 2010 and was joined by New Zealand on November 21, 2012 with respect to a dispute concerning Japan’s JARPA II program on “scientific whaling.”

The December 17th decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Washington State overturns a previous ruling in Sea Shepherd’s favor. It mandates that Sea Shepherd U.S. must not physically confront any vessel or any person on any vessel engaged by plaintiffs, the ICR, in the Southern Ocean, and must not navigate in a manner that is likely to endanger the safe operation of any such vessel. It also states that defendants shall not approach plaintiffs any closer than 500 yards when defendants are navigating on the open sea. The injunction is to remain in place until the court issues an opinion on the merits of the appeal filed by the ICR.

The ICR lawsuit is funded by a Japanese government subsidy of some $30 million USD in Tsunami Relief Funds donated to aid the victims of the tsunami, earthquake and nuclear crisis, not to hunt whales. It is part of a larger strategy by Japan’s ICR to curtail Sea Shepherd’s interventions to defend at-risk whales in the established Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. As a result of this plan, Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson is the target of two ‘red notices’ issued by Interpol put forth at the request of Costa Rica and Japan, which seek to extradite him to those nations for trial on trumped up, politically motivated charges related to defending marine wildlife from poachers.

Hansen and Brown collaborated this past summer to defend the largest humpback whale nursery in the world from development of the largest gas factory in the world at James Price Point during Sea Shepherd Australia’s highly successful campaign, Operation Kimberley Miinimbi.

Read Captain Paul Watson's statement

Zero Tolerance
Visit our
Operation Zero Tolerance
site for more information about our
2012-2013 Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign


Sea Shepherd news articles from 2012 and earlier.

For articles from 2013 and newer, visit our Sea Shepherd News page.