EXCLUSIVE: The fight against Japanese Whaling is not over, Sea Shepherd captain reveals and talks about the conservation laws void
The oceans are at peril and there is law enforcement void in the international waters. Someone needs to go down there and save the ecosystem. From illegal fishing of whales to dolphins to toothfish, the poachers are on its way to extinct these beautiful creation of nature in a bid to make money.
Sea Shepherd, a UN Chartered organisation has taken the noble task of saving the waters from the poachers, risking their lives even. Sometimes fighting the poachers and sometimes fighting the government, they go to any extend to save the aquatic wildlife.
They announced their next campaign on Monday,
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The captain of
The mission where they pursued an
Operation Icefish was the first of its kind campaign to specifically target fishing in
They were in 2 vessels with a crew of 70 and the aim was to head to Antarctica to fill an enforcement void in those waters and to deliver these vessels to justice while they were fishing in the ice in Antarctica. There are known six vessels which were returning to Antarctica in last 13-14 years and have remained outside traditional law enforcement.
On December 17, one of the vessels
“That was an extremely successful outcome because generally in the world of crimes against fisheries you do not see such strong and quick resolution,” said the captain.
What also happened was it brought together a lot of changes to how a crime was tackled. Interpol along with governments of New Zealand and Australia, Nigeria, Germany, Canada, multiple parties came together and they began investigating the money side, the ownerships and false paperwork that goes into running these illegal operations from their side. And ultimately by May when the campaign concluded we had managed to shut down all six of those vessels. This was again an unprecedented sort of success that never happened before. Sea Shepherd announced Operation Icefish 2015-2016 as two of the poaching ships have managed to evade law and escape.
This year we are going with one ship because there are 2 poachers left, with a crew of about 35 on the ship, said the captain who was onboard the vessel Sam Simon, the other vessel on the pursuit.
What was the most difficult part of your last mission?
We had two sides to that campaign. One was the chase of 110 days, which was almost 5 times the last chase. It went across four oceans, Antarctica Ocean,
How was it to see Thunder go down to the bottom of the sea?
It was a very surreal experience. We were the only ones in the sea who could even rescue the crew so I was actually speaking to the captain of the thunder about how I would be rescuing his crew when his ship went in the background. We never really expected there to be such a spectacular ending to the campaign. On one hand there was the jubilation that it had ended and driven the most notorious fishing vessel on this planet to the very edge when they decided to sink their own ship. On the other side there was the brave responsibility of picking up 40 people from that vessel, potentially knowing that they would be hostile and they would wrestle towards us. After that we still had the responsibility to deliver them to law enforcement agencies on shore because on the absence of that they would just disappear and the cycle would just continue.
Many days and weeks later, it was finally a relief that the notorious vessel do not exist today.
The Japanese government has agreed to stop its Whaling. Do you think the fight is over?
The verdict can be swayed aside because of lack of control over the oceans. We are looking at what the Japanese whalers are doing. If they go after it, then starting next year we would be focusing on that.
Sea Sheperd is also helping an NGO in Australia with all the evidence to go up in the federal court against the Japanese government.
There is a tourist surge in Antarctica. How do you think the ecosystem is hampered?
Antarctica so far has not supported a big tourism industry. It does not support anything else than science and research, but as these places become more accessible and as people will have the means to stride into Antarctica, there will be a surge in tourists and that can only be controlled using a limit on the number of tourists and the tour operator being absolutely ethical about how the tourists interact with the wild life.
What is your opinion about the present Conservation laws?
Fisheries crimes are increasing for two reasons. One, the governments do not have the monetary capacity to enforce the laws in their waters.
Second, there are those who are willing to exploit those illegal fishing or operators.
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(Image credits: twitter, wikipedia)