Sunday, 21 March 2010

Sea Shepherd’s 2010 Mediterranean Bluefin Tuna Defense Campaign

The United Nations has failed to agree on listing Bluefin Tuna at the recent meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna [CITES].

The decision occurred after Japan, Canada and many poor nations opposed the measure. Stocks of bluefin tuna have fallen by at least 85% since the industrial fishing era began. Bluefin quotas are set at a ludicrously high 13,500 tonnes by The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT], but realistically over 60,000 tonnes are killed every year. The scientific community believe bluefin tuna may be extinct in the Mediterranean Sea in less than 5 years. The quota is too high, it is not enforced, there is insufficient political willpower to act, the same old story.

Monaco [who tabled the CITES ban motion] argued that the organization responsible for managing the bluefin fishery - ICCAT - had not implemented measures strict enough to ensure the species' survival.

Bluefin tuna had been put forward for proposed listing as an Endangered Species on CITES Appendix I – which would result in a complete ban on trade in the species among CITES parties. An expert panel of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization had examined the issue and felt an Appendix I categorization was necessary. In fact even ICCAT’s scientific advisors had recommended a trade ban as being justified.

Japan is once again leading the charge into the termination of the species. Japan worked with her allies and stopped the ban being invoked. Over 80% of bluefin tuna is sold in Japan, and companies holding large stockpiles of the valuable fish are keen to see the species become extinct – they will reap enormous profits and be able to control the market... There is simply too much money involved with greedy self interest groups, illegal fish traders and self-interested political forces having once again won the day. The bluefin tuna have no chance.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (Sea Shepherd) will be arriving in the Mediterranean this summer and will stand against the illegal overfishing of bluefin tuna. Sea Shepherd will do everything possible within the boundaries of international law to protect the magnificent bluefin. By sea, air and land, preparations are well underway for the Mediterranean bluefin tuna defense campaign, and Sea Shepherd’s flagship vessel Steve Irwin, having just returned from intervening against illegal whaling off the coast of Antarctica, is now on its way to enforce international conservation law in European waters.

Steve Roest
Chief Executive Officer
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Photo Credit : Gary Stokes /

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Bob Barker Rammed by Illegal Whaler

At 1209 PM Fremantle, Australia time, the Yushin Maru 3 intentionally rammed the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker, penetrating it's hull and endangering the lives of it’s crew. The collision occurred at 65 degrees 21 South, 67 degrees 58 East, about 180 miles off Cape Darnley in the Australian Antarctic Territory.

The Bob Barker had been actively blocking the slipway of the Nisshin Maru, the Japanese whaling fleet’s factory ship when the collision occurred. Four harpoon ships, the Yushin Maru 1, 2, and 3 and Shonan Maru 2, were circling and making near passes to the stern and bow of the Sea Shepherd vessel. The Bob Barker did not move from its position. At which point, the Yushin Maru 3 intentionally rammed the Bob Barker, creating a 3-foot long 4-inch deep gash in the mid starboard side of the Sea Shepherd vessel above the waterline.

No crew was injured during the collision. The Bob Barker continues to block the slipway of the Nisshin Maru, preventing the transfer of slaughtered whales and effectively shutting down illegal whaling operations.

The incident demonstrates a continued escalation of violence by the illegal whalers in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Said Captain Paul Watson from the bridge of the Steve Irwin, currently en route to join the action, “Because the whalers got away basically scot-free with the outrageous sinking of the Ady Gil, they now apparently think they can do whatever they want and they appear to have no qualms about endangering Sea Shepherd crew. What we really need is for the governments of Australia and New Zealand to step up and start enforcing maritime laws in these waters, or who know what the whalers will do next. Australian and New Zealand lives are at risk every day in these waters."

The crew of the Bob Barker noticed that the Yushin Maru 3 stopped moving in the water shortly after the impact, and appeared to be falling behind as the Bob Barker maintained its position on the stern of the Nisshin Maru. It’s possible the Yushin Maru 3 damaged itself in the collision.

The Japanese whalers are far more aggressive this year than in past campaigns.