From Sea Shepherd UK’s foundation in 2005 the charity has supported Sea Shepherd’s fleet of conservation vessels on campaigns around the world. Since 2014 we started major campaigns around the UK and to other countries both independently and in cooperation with other Sea Shepherd entities. Sea Shepherd UK has also worked with or assisted UK based charities such as the Cornwall Wildlife Trust (Cornwall Marine and Coastal Code Group), the SSPCA, RSPB Scotland, Fathoms Free, The Seahorse Trust and supporting where we can British Divers Marine Life Rescue.
Campaigns managed by Sea Shepherd UK since 2014
Seal Defence Campaign, 2014 to 2015 (Scotland)
Sea Shepherd UK completed in late August 2015 the second year of our ‘Scottish Seal Defence Campaign’ monitoring the activities of Wild Salmon Netting companies and fish farms to discourage or directly prevent the illegal killing of common and grey seals which are protected species in the UK and European Union. The campaign crew also engaged in seal monitoring expeditions to the Hebrides, Orkney islands, South West Scotland, North West England and North Eastern England.
Sea Shepherd UK’s Seal Defence Campaign over the two years utilised 71 volunteers from 12 countries utilising three of Sea Shepherd UK’s boats ‘Spitfire’, ‘Mermaid of Makaha’ and ‘Joker’ together with a privately owned fast boat ‘Togs’, while land patrols included our first use of a dedicated 4x4 vehicle ‘Koyah’ and an amphibious drone ‘Kuiper’ which had both been kindly donated by Sea Shepherd UK supporters.
The campaign generated significant media attention and has documented several potential illegal shootings of protected grey seals as well multiple cases of allegedly illegal killing of protected UK seabird species by UK fishermen at multiple locations.
The Seal Defence Campaign also reduced the numbers of seals shot (by fishermen and associated persons monitored) decrease from around 120 (in 2013) to less than 10 (in 2015) and to less than 30 (in 2016) with no discernible affect to legal fishing activities. The campaign also reported multiple cases of illegal fishing outside of permitted hours to River Bailiffs which resulted in illegally set nets being cut from the water by River Bailiffs in Dunnet Bay.
Accounting for local reports and estimates of illegal shootings of seals - the numbers of seals saved during the campaign is likely in excess of 200 animals as well as resulting in many protected seabirds being freed from coastal fixed engine nets which otherwise may have been left to drown or be killed by salmon netsmen.
Operation Grindstop, 2014 (Faroe Islands)
Sea Shepherd UK loaned our largest RHIB ‘MV Spitfire’ to the Sea Shepherd Global campaign ‘Operation Bloody Fjords’. Spitfire and her crew made an unprecedented open sea crossing of 230nm direct from Scotland overnight in rough weather from where the boat joined the campaign fleet. Around a month later Spitfire was used to potentially save a pod of over 200 Atlantic white sided dolphins driving them away from a grindadráp killing bay near Torshavn before the vessel was seized by Danish Special Forces and the Faroese Police. It took over 2.5 years until finally in November 2016 a Danish court heard the case in the Faroese capital and ruled to release Spitfire back to Sea Shepherd UK with no charges.
Pilot Whale Defence Campaign, 2016 (Faroe Islands)
Sea Shepherd UK placed two covert filming and drone teams in the Faroe Islands during the summer of 2016 in order to document the killing of Pilot whales and dolphins in the grindadráp hunts and the close association with fish farm sites around the islands.
Great Australian Bight Alliance, 2016 (Australia & UK)
Sea Shepherd UK joined the ‘Great Australian Bight Alliance’ in June 2016 to apply public pressure in the UK and overseas to prevent the hazardous deep sea drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight, one of the last pristine ocean areas in the world and breeding area for many threatened marine creatures including cetaceans and unique shark species. As part of this partnership Sea Shepherd UK organised a major demonstration in London Docklands which we believe helped influence shareholders of oil giant BP into persuading the company to pull out of the Great Australian Bight – which in turn may influence other oil companies to change their plans in the same ocean area.
Operation Infinite Patience, 2016 to 2017 (Japan)
Sea Shepherd UK coordinated Operation Infinite Patience and the international crew of ‘Cove Guardians’ in Taiji, Japan from October 2016 to April 2017. Sea Shepherd UK crew ran a successful campaign including obtaining drone and kayak footage which was used for an educational video as well as daily livestreaming of the hunting, trading and killing of small cetaceans.
Shetland Patrols, 2017 (Scotland)
Sea Shepherd UK also engaged in three reconnaissance patrols by land and sea during 2017 using two of Sea Shepherd UK’s rigid inflatable boats (Siren and Dragon) and a small team of divers around Shetland to research issues affecting wild fish species and marine mammals from potentially illegal practises by the prolific aquaculture (Salmon farming) industry around the islands. The results of these patrols will provide a basis for future campaigns to monitor the aquaculture industry which is having such a negative impact on wild Salmon, seals and many other marine species.
Operation Bloody Fjords, 2017 to 2019 (Faroe Islands)
In the summer of 2017, Sea Shepherd UK coordinated 18 crew members in 10 rotating teams based in six different Faroese towns covering 19 designated whaling bays. The campaign ran from 1st June to 31st during which our covert volunteer crews managed to extensively document and record nine separate grindadráp hunts and the transport of 6 whole pilot whales (sold for around 25,000 kroner each) from Klaksvik in the North East of the islands to the capital Torshavn in the South to be processed and sold in supermarkets. After the last crew left the islands, Sea Shepherd then released a series of photo reports, videos and testimony from our teams which generated viral news reports around the world by media networks and in the printed press.
Then in May 2018, Sea Shepherd UK stepped up the campaign and sent 38 crew from England, Scotland, France, Spain and Canada with embedded TV crews from South Korea and Italy as well as working with international media. Our crew documented, photographed and, for the first time by any international conservation group, managed to live-stream straight to the web a total of 11 grindadráp hunts while again also documenting the commercial sale of pilot whale meat in the Faroes and the killing of Fulmars in the North East of the Faroe Islands. Our crew's live-streams, videos and photographs lead to hundreds of articles in the international media. Of particular note was the Hvalvik grindadráp of 210 Atlantic White Sided Dolphins on the 11th September which was documented and live-streamed by 5 of our crew. The hunt was disorganised, drawn out, and inhumane and was a catastrophe for the Faroese in the International media causing debates and articles also across the Faroese media with calls, including from the former Faroese Prime Minister, to end the killing of Atlantic white sided dolphins entirely.
Operation Mjölnir, 2018 to 2019 (Iceland)
In May 2018 it was clear that the Icelandic whaling company 'Hvalur hf' intended to re-start the whaling of endangered Fin whales. Sea Shepherd UK therefore decided to launch 'Operation Mjölnir' (Thor's Hammer), a ground-breaking campaign to fully document and expose the entire Fin whaling 2018 season using cameras, drones and also by live-streaming direct from Hvalur hf's whaling station at Midsandur on Hvalfjörður, Iceland.
Sea Shepherd UK’s 30 crew on Operation Mjölnir who travelled from England, Scotland, Wales, Shetland, Jersey, France, USA and Canada worked in small teams around Hvalfjörður and Akranes for a total of 101 days while cooperating with Photo-journalists and TV crews from the UK, Germany and notably with the USA’s respected broadcaster ABC News for their Nightline series and with the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) on the filming of the Horizont program ‘Iceland’s Controversial Whaler’ which was broadcast in Denmark, Iceland and the Faroe Islands which was followed by a second edit by the filmmakers called 'Killing Whales' watched internationally via Al Jazeera Media Network's 'People & Power' series.
By the end of the whaling season, Sea Shepherd's crew had documented 145 of the 146 whales which had been cruelly killed by the harpoons of Hvalur 8 and 9 in Icelandic waters - including 144 Endangered Fin whales of various ages (with around 21 of those harpooned when they were pregnant) as well as documenting the potentially illegal killings of endangered Blue whale / rare Blue : Fin whale hybrids. Sea Shepherd crew also documented transport lorries loaded with crates of whale meat and pallet loads of boxes labelled both in Japanese and English 'whale meat from Iceland' as they were moved from the Midsandur whaling station to a large unmarked storage building in Hafnarfjörður about 1/2 mile from an industrial port where ultimately the 1500 tons of ‘products’ from these endangered harpooned whales were later shipped to Japan.
If Kristján Loftsson's Hvalur hf again targets Fin whales in 2019 - Sea Shepherd has pledged to escalate the campaign.
Read more about the campaign at: https://www.seashepherd.org.uk/campaigns/operation-mjolnir/
Ghostnet Campaign, 2018 to 2019 (England & Wales)
In January 2018 Sea Shepherd UK announced our new 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.
The campaign as a long-term operation and we will 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. Sea Shepherd is cooperating on this campaign with the expert UK ghost gear retrieval charity ‘Fathoms Free’ based on the South coast of England.
To enhance our diver deployment capabilities for the new ghostnet campaign, SSUK obtained a high specification twin engine Atlantic 75 RHIB which has been named ‘GHOST’ and a single engine Humber Destroyer RIB named 'Phantom' both outfitted with 3D scanning sonar.
Marine Debris Campaign, 2016 to 2019 (UK, Northern Ireland and Jersey)
Marine debris is globally recognized as a monumental environmental concern. It is a danger to all marine life including birds, sharks, turtles, and marine mammals, causing injury or death through drowning, entanglement, or starvation following ingestion. Sea Shepherd’s Marine Debris Campaign aims to educate the public as well as removing harmful plastics and other debris from around the UK’s coastline (typically around 50 beach cleans each year) as part of the Sea Shepherd Movement’s worldwide campaign on the issue.
Additionally, other activities by Sea Shepherd UK include:
Supporting ocean going vessels used for conservation work which are owned and/or operated by Sea Shepherd Global by providing funds for their maintenance and fuel for active campaigns in coastal and high seas campaigns for marine wildlife, notably the IUU fishing campaigns on the West coast of Africa
Sea Shepherd UK continues to offer our reward for information leading to the successful conviction of individuals or groups for specific crimes against marine wildlife set at £5000 for information leading to the successful prosecution of any individuals or companies who kill protected or endangered marine wildlife in UK territorial waters.
Sea Shepherd UK helped design and launch ‘Operation 404’ which aims to end all hunting and trade in wild dolphins. It also aims to end the captivity of dolphins and whales across the globe.
Sea Shepherd UK attends around 250 outreach events educational talks around the UK, Northern Ireland and Jersey each year.
Sea Shepherd UK also continues to provide expertise and financial support for a range of international marine conservation projects which meet Sea Shepherd UK’s ethical and/or conservation aims around the World.
Sea Shepherd UK granted our fast boat ‘MV Spitfire’ (8.5m 400hp XS RHIB) to Sea Shepherd Netherlands which is now based on the MY Bob Barker and used for pursuing and boarding IUU (Illegal Unreported and Unregulated) fishing vessels around the coast of Africa.
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