A couple of weeks ago, Steve Irwin was in Wellington…and i went on board to say hello!
The MV Steve Irwin is a 59-meter (195 ft) ship owned by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and used in their direct action campaigns against whaling and other activities the group animal rights group opposes.
Sea Shepherd had previously christened the vessel the MV Robert Hunter after Canadian Robert Hunter, co-founder of Greenpeace, but was renamed in honor of the late Crocodile Hunter host Steve Irwin on 5 December 2007. Irwin had considered joining the vessel on a voyage to Antarctica shortly before his death, and the renaming was endorsed by his widow Terri.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is a non-profit, marine conservation organization based in Friday Harbor, Washington in the United States. The group, which is often linked to the radical environmentalism movement, uses direct action tactics to protect sealife. Sea Shepherd currently operates the vessels MV Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker, and most of the group’s activities take place in international waters. The group has a strong focus on public relations to spread their message via the media.
The organization was founded in 1977 under the name Earth Force Society by Paul Watson, an early member of Greenpeace, after a dispute with that organization over what Watson saw as its lack of more aggressive intervention. It has received support for its tactics against fishing, whaling, and seal hunting from quarters such as media personalities, and the Dalai Lama has expressed support for its volunteers, while critics have condemned the violent nature of the actions.
Various governments and organizations (and even members of the society) have referred to the group as pirates. While they have a jolly roger flying from the mast, it doesn’t mean they act like pirates.
Operations have included scuttling and disabling whaling vessels at harbour, intervening in Canadian seal hunts, ramming other vessels, trying to temporarily blind or disorient whalers with a laser device, throwing bottles of foul-smelling butyric acid onto vessels at sea, boarding of whaling vessels while at sea, and seizure and destruction of drift nets at sea. Sea Shepherd claims that their aggressive actions are necessary as the international community has shown itself unwilling or unable to stop species-endangering whaling and fishing practices. Some governments and organizations have referred to them as terrorists.
While visiting Wellington, the crew of the Sea Shepherd was trying to raise awareness of the incident involving the Ady Gil and it’s captain Pete Bethune
Ady Gil, previously known as Earthrace, was a 78-foot (24 m), wave-piercing trimaran, which was originally created as part of a project to break the world record for circumnavigating the globe in a powerboat.
In late 2009, it was announced that the boat, now repainted black and named Ady Gil, would be participating in anti-whaling operations under the lead of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. During operations in the Southern Ocean, the vessel and the Japanese whaling support vessel MV Shōnan Maru 2 collided on January 6, 2010, resulting in loss of the Ady Gil’s bow and one of the Ady Gil’s six crew members, a New Zealand cameraman, sustained broken ribs.
Crew on three vessels, the Shōnan Maru 2, the Ady Gil, and the Bob Barker, a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society support ship, took footage of the incident, and video of the incident has been released by both the Institute of Cetacean Research and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
The video below shows you what happens. I think it is fairly clear that Japanese whalers have little regard for anyone who gets in their way:
The captain of Ady Gil, Pete Bethune, boarded the Shōnan Maru 2 on February 15, 2010 to present the captain with a citizen’s arrest warrant for attempted murder and a $3 million bill for his lost boat. He was taken into custody by the ship’s crew and was taken to Japan, where he was arrested by the Japanese Coast Guard for trespassing on March 12. He is now awaiting trial in Japan on 6 charges.
Sea Shepherd expected Captain Bethune to face a trespassing charge but all additional charges are being made for purely political reasons, to set an example of Captain Bethune for alleged actions that are absolutely trivial in comparison to those of the Shonan Maru No. 2; whose captain is not even being investigated by Japanese authorities after ramming and sinking another vessel at sea.
This is an embarrassment to the Japanese criminal justice system, a further slap in the face to the international community, and proof that Japan will continue to do what it wants regardless of international law or public opinion.
Protest against Japan, support Sea Shepherd and help save our amazing ocean wildlife for our future generations.